What Ever Happened to…Chic Jeans?

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(Editor’s note: this post about Chic jeans was updated 1/2017). Ladies…those of you of a certain age (ahem) remember the miracle that was “Chic Jeans” — the high waist, the medium-to-dark wash, the peg leg, the gold scrolly letters proclaiming that you were, in fact, “chic” (pronounced “chick” but whatever). Oh, the grandeur!

Okay, so the truth is they were soooo very ’80s. And the other truth is that if, in the ’80s, you couldn’t afford Gloria Vanderbilts, you wore Chic jeans and pretended they were just as cool. The question is (for those of us who don’t have anything better to think about), whatever happened to Chic Jeans anyway? Well here’s the scoop: they still exist. We know —take a moment.

Chic Jeans…We Miss You…Sort of

If you Google it, a warning — the current Chic Jeans website will make you feel like you’re shopping to gear up for next week’s PTO budget meeting smack dab in the middle of Midwest U.S.A. (I live in St. Louis, I can play that card!). Upon navigating through the site, we come upon the categories “scooter pant” and “back elastic pant”. Okay, forget the PTO, we’re heading straight for the nursing home apparently.

Back in the day, Chic jeans were touted as “the world’s best fitting jeans.” Their current marketing angle? “Nothing feels quite as good as being comfortable.” Which the number of pairs of yoga pants jammed in our drawers can attest to, but it’s not the leading statement in our style philosophy. Nor is it what we were thinking when we were rocking that pair of Chic Jeans that could never be quite narrow enough at the ankle with a crop top and high-top Reeboks. But we digress.

Chic Jeans

The company itself is, per its website, currently owned by the VF Corporation, which also is the parent company of other practical denim-based lines as Wrangler, Lee and Riders as well as more hip brands like 7 For All Mankind, Rock & Republic, Vans and The North Face. Weirdly, however, if you visit the VF Corporation website, it doesn’t list Chic among its brands. We did reach out to VF, who said that Chic IS part of their stable of labels, but they have no idea why it isn’t listed on their site. But we guess if they’re not concerned, neither are we.

A Short History of Chic Jeans

A little history: founded in the 1920s, the original parent company (known in the 1960s as Henry I. Siegel Co., or H.I.S.) produced jeans under department store brand names, later creating the “Chic” label in the 1970s with a focus on being “proportioned to fit,” which any tall or petite girl can tell you, is a critical — possibly genius, for the time — selling point.

Times got tough, however, for the brand that in the mid-80s was second only to Levis and Lee in production of women’s jeans. Heavily dependent on troubled budget retailer Kmart, Chic jeans were by the mid-90s, well, not-so-chic anymore. A continuing decline in the U.S. notwithstanding, the Chic brand seems to have maintained a stronghold in Europe well into the late 1990s. While the brand name Chic seems to have all but vanished there as well, H.I.S. jeans appear to still be a force in fashionable denim in Europe to this day.

While Chic elastic-waist pants are apparently available on the Walmart and Kmart websites, a “where to buy” search turned up not one single store location where we could go to purchase Chic jeans. Not in Missouri, Illinois, New York, California, Texas, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, American Samoa or Guam (we got tired of playing with their store search function after that—not really even sure at this point why it’s there). Not that it really matters; we figure it’ll be a few more years before we’re in the market for medium-wash, tapered-leg, high-elastic-waist pants. Until then, Chic, we will cherish those affordable not-quite-Calvin-Klein-but-good-enough-for-us memories.

Side Note: If you were ever thinking of Googling “History of Chic Jeans,” don’t. It only brings up a spammy link whose keywords also include “hepatology,” “nylon” and “granny.” Plus other stuff. Resist the urge.

But if you’d like to share a few Chic jeans memories in the comments, feel free!

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  • Bernadette Blair

    Hi – the original Chic Jeans were the best! Tried some with the “label” that were not JEANS but some creepy polyester stuff that were clingy and did not fit well. I still have 2 pair from the 90s and would love to find some to purchase: size 6 Petite short was the size I wore and still wear. Will search per suggestions from this post. TY to you all. The market is still good for these excellent jeans that went from sporty to snazzy in the blink of an eye … always wore them to work!

  • Ineca

    I just ordered three pair of petit Chic Jeans from Walmart.com

    • Doris

      Got them at Shopko last month
      Got 4pair
      Hard to find

  • Jennifer

    Bet you could find some on eBay!

  • Bruce

    Anyone remember the most famous (can’t find it on the Internet) Chic jeans ad with the blond’s body facing away from the camera but her head turned toward the camera and her hand is on her butt near the “chic” stitiching? If anyone knows where this photo is, can you post it back on this comment list.

  • nancy anderson

    I totally miss the Chic jeans! They are the only ones that fit. I have a small waist and big butt 🙂 They always fit perfect. Have not found any others that fit that well. I always have a 2 inch gap in the back with other jeans. I HATE the low cut jeans! I feel like I am losing them. Also when you bend over or sit they show everything 🙁

  • Sara

    This is Great! and hilarious because I work at a nursing home and love when women come in with elastic waist jeans. You are soon right on. Thanks for the info and laughs

  • Susan Kaminski

    I have diabetic neuropithy and can’t zip or button. I love “chic” jeans and shorts. Looked at many Kmart stores and none. I need the woman’s size. I can’t even order them on line through “chic”. Come back. We need you.

  • Judy

    Catherine, thanks, I’ll do that. I do have two pairs of Lee jeans. But I would like to get some more Chic!

  • Judy

    I like these jeans, too! I used to get them at Fred’s Dollar Store but they no longer carry my size. I haven’t been able to find them in any other store.

    • Catherine Brock

      Come back and let us know if you find a brand you like!

      • Judy

        Catherine, thanks, I’ll do that! I went into town earlier today, went to several stores looking for jeans. I was hoping I could find Chic, but no luck. Other brands, yes. I do have two pairs of Levi’s that I’ve had for years.

  • Allie

    The possessive form of “it” is “its,” not “it’s.” “It’s” is the contraction for “it is.”

    • Catherine Brock

      Noted and fixed. ~Catherine

  • Jo Kaye

    I wish chick jeans we’re back. They are the best jean ever made for women I wore them religiously. They were made to fit a woman’s body no matter what size you were Jo Kaye

  • Are g2 Chic jeans the same as regular Chic jeans

  • Joan Garneau

    Can be found at the Vanity Fair store in Ellenton, Florida. I bought three pair of shorts today. It’s March so I will get some slacks in late summer. The also had really nice Chic tees in up to date styles.

  • Adriene Jackson

    I was so fine but the chic jeans had me looking like a brick house 24-36-24 what a winning hand

  • Cindy

    Still have my favorite pair although they don’t fit they look good hanging on the wall with their two ass flower patches

  • A Silvrants

    Please consider the older women. Have worn chic jeans for years .So
    please don.t stop making them. Would like browns. And some other
    colors also.

  • Laurie

    I bought Chic Jeans at about $2.50 a pair at Gabriel Brothers 10 years ago. Absolutely LOVE the jeans.

    Haven’t been able to find them since. I refuse to wear the elastic waist jeans I see…

    Please bring back the “regular” Chis jeans of yore… Very comfortable and wearable!

  • Anita

    Come on “CHIC Jeans”. Everything is geared for the young kids BUT what a bout the faithful followers of CHIC jeans? CHIC is the only jeans I wear and are comfortable in.
    Please consider the more mature ladies.

  • LaDonya Wells

    Chic jeans were my favs, I’ve been looking for them for years. The jeans made a girls body look gooooddd. I went to the web site and turned red because I was mad that they considered those jeans CHIC by H.I.S. Please say you know how to obtain a pair!?!!

    • Catherine

      Try Tradesy.com!

    • Gary Douglas

      The plant which was located in my area I live in still today closed its doors and moved to Mexico in the late 90’s we have four buildings there sitting empty that were once HIS chick jeans with no prospect of anyone moving in them the buildings are running down the old cutting factory the sewing factory and the warehouse and an outlet store I worked in the warehouse for many years meet my wife of 27 years there good memory’s to me it’s sad to see the place fall apart but I’m sure that’s the way of it all over America in small towns like ours I heard HIS went bankrupt and sold out there is a Facebook page for old employees to which I’m a member

      • Christine Luehrs

        I would love to know the name of the Facebook group as my father was an employee for many, many years. I’m looking for a few of the old employees from their showroom in NYC