“The toughest of Sears tough jeans…lab tests prove it! Made out of a fabric so rugged, we made a trampoline out of it.”
Kids have the remarkable ability to destroy just about any type of clothing with ease, needing only an hour or so of vigorous play, sometimes minutes. But in the 70s, they begrudgingly met their match. Catalog moguls, Sears and Roebuck, developed a new fabric that was nearly indestructible, perking up the ears of parents everywhere. They marketed the fabric in a line of children’s clothing that every kid of the era surely remembers, either fondly or with a pained expression. That’s right, we’re talking about Toughskins jeans.
With a blend of three fibers, Daycron polyester, nylon and cotton, these jeans could withstand the rigors of play without ever becoming worse for the wear. In fact, Sears guaranteed parents that their kids would outgrow them before they ever wore out. Available in a rainbow of colors ranging from denim blue to plaids (and even magenta), these jeans hugged the body like a second skin and contained reinforced knees that could withstand just about any friction the playground had to offer. The only danger one had to be aware of was the fake leather “Toughskins” tag affixed to the back. Over time, this plastic tag would inevitably crack, creating some occasional sharp edges that could jab one’s skin as they bent down to pick something up or tie their shoes.
The seemingly bulletproof Toughskins fabric proved so durable that it was also used to make equally indestructible sneakers and jackets. Toughskins were marketed to all age groups from toddlers to teenagers; even a line of men’s work clothes was introduced for a short time.
Of course, as kids grew older, they demanded slightly more fashionable threads. Despite advertising to the contrary, teens found Toughskins jeans decidedly uncool in a world of designer jeans, and a poor sap sporting Toughskins a few years beyond their prime was sure to be the target of some serious taunting from classmates. But the little ones never worried about such a silly thing as fashion; they just wanted to play with reckless abandon. And smart parents knew that there was only one option that was tough enough to keep their clothing budget from spiraling out of control.
Toughskins were re-introduced by Sears in the 90s, allowing new generations to experience the invincible glory of these Tonka trucks of the jeans world. If you fond (or not-so-fond) memories of sporting a rugged pair of Toughskins around the playground, we’d love to hear your memories in our comments section. And if you had a magenta pair, you know we want to hear about that, as we tip our hats to this indestructible clothing from our collective childhood.