Marithe = “mah-reet” François = “frah(n)-swah” Girbaud = “zheer-bow

This one is pretty close to my heart… paying homage to the man who peaked my curiosity and sent me into the #denim trenches, exploring every shade of blue and had me taking dismissing algebra equations for the chemistry of indigo.

Q: Dear Denim Girl,

For Christmas, my wife is looking for a pair or two of Marithe Francois Girbaud jeans, Ladies, size 12.  I can’t find any on-line in that size. Do you have a suggestion?

Thank you,

-Mr. Marks

A:  Merry Christmas Mr. Marks,

Who ever said Girbaud wasn’t a “WHO” didn’t know much about anything!

Well, to my knowledge no one sells them in the USA right now… I wish they did! If you’ve read my bio you know they are my! Here is a pair on e-bay that are nearly vintage in a nice body style. You are also looking for a size 32 aka 12 in French and Italian brands it is a good gauge.  I would suggest moving on to the brand  CLOSED! MF+F have begun re-branding Mairthe Francois Girbaud as a contemporary apparel collection fit for the runways, but last season I swear it looked like an over done juniors line. Either way they have moved the iconic white tag to their new brand CLOSED; easily available in specialty retailers in the US.

Interview with Marithe Girbaud

Pretty much it is what Girbaud was 20 years ago when we all lost our heart to them. However, I don’t think the jeans are going to fit the way she wants them to. I would suggest her taking a look at Paige Premium Denim the Skyline or Hidden Hills (higher rise than the skyline).  If she is just looking for that killer pair of everyday understated sexy then get her a pair of the AG Jeans Jessie or Ballad!


Born: Marithé Bachellerie— Lyon, France, 1942; François Girbaud— Mazamet, France, 1945; Started his career in 1965 unveiling his first denim collection 3 years later through the doors of his own Parisian boutique in 1969. He launched Closed for men in 1993, a brand that has hit the contemporary in 2011 marketplace like an anvil.

Emanating from the streets, Marithé and François Girbaud have created fashion that revels design problems of cylinders, mutation,  reversibility; and bringing high-style aspirations to casual materials and fancy effects.

“When interviewed, the designers like to suggest their work is a perfect synthesis of their childhood preoccupations, she with creating doll clothes, he with American pop culture, films, and military outfits. There is truth to this proposition, yet it also is unlikely that these two designers who began as retailers are only pursuing personal desires. The casual clothing they have created is imbued with heritage, even if this legacy is working clothing, brought to the present in technical and even futuristic ways. In the evident conceptualism of their they have expanded the market of casual clothing beyond the young, so their clothes are as appropriate to the market for persons in their 30s and 40s as they are to the primary market for jeans of teens or in their 20s.”

They became bent in their deconstructivist exposing elements of design, parallels Karl Lagerfeld but their medium is more accessible in a hip hop weekend casual carefree flare but have never waivered from being the most innovative, experimental, concept-driven designers.

The Girbaud’s have, in fact, commanded the avant-garde position in casualwear, generally characterized from runways such as Jean-Paul Gaultier or Issey Miyake, thriving on conceptual development and change yet never failing to represent the irrefutable leadership position in the field. Ruth La Ferla, of the Daily News Record, called François Girbaud “three parts fashion technician, one part theoretician. The Girbaud’s are fluent in the language of clothing, playing with the vocabulary, hieroglyphs, and alphabets that continually appear in every collection. François Girbaud told Irene Daria of Women’s Wear Daily, in December 1984, “We design from the streets. We start at the bottom and move up.”

Girbauds were always proponents of fabric innovation with projects such as Blue Eternal, a treated denim that holds its color after multiple trips to the laundry as well as the development of a detergent to revive denim. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Girbauds’ designs were  emblematic of utilitarian chic, the jeans were the item kids saved  for months to get a pair, the reward for the report card and what everyone’s high school lust had hanging on his hips.

Marithé et François Girbaud

The Girbaud jeanswear line has suffered ups and downs in the U.S. market. “With its first licensee, V.F. Corporation (currently owns 7 for all Mankind and running it into the gutter), the Girbaud brand reached an estimated $250 million in annual volume in 1992, but after a too-quick expansion and overexposure, sales fell to less than a tenth of its previous high. In 1997 the men’s license was transferred to a new manufacturer, I.C. Isaacs & Company, which added the women’s license a year later. Isaacs struggled financially in the late 1990s and early 2000s, leading it to shed some of its brands.

“Licensing your dream is not recommended… launch your dream, licence the sunglasses and shoes; keep the heart of it your hands. “In an industry where fashion changes with each season, the Girbauds’ clothes have kept the image of comfort while growing in style and versatility to become ‘concept dressing’.”- California Apparel News; 7/1986

The women’s clothing segment accounts for nearly 68% of premium apparel and has affected more than 88% of the female population. With an epidemic such as this you would hope that consumers actually knew what they were buying. However, Italian and French denim brands have a gargantuan market opportunity in the US in women’s wear. The premium denim market is under penetrated in several aspects just waiting for someone to snag it! “I am waiting….”  and they are begging for a denim vision with a little sass and a bit of whoop ass. I read an article that stated that “Isaacs is working to limit distribution in order to prevent the too-fast growth that occurred in the early and mid-1990s.”  Now in 2012, they have limited their distribution right out of the USA and have us bidding on 1992 Girbaud jeans on ebay! Oh Hunnie bear Girbaud, if you want to come back to the US I’ve got enough data for you to nail it; come back to me; I miss you desperately!


The Girbauds have always broke away from the mainstream setting always raising the bar on wash techniques and symmetry.  A true clothier leader and denim pioneer. “Our work is sometimes a little crazy—sometimes we are on the bull’s-eye of fashion and sometimes we are not.”-François.

Thank you for posting and showing your #denim LOVE! Good luck and PLEASE hit me back with your finding!

p.s If you are in Europe- I can find them for you!
Your Butt Therapist