Parents didn’t buy their children Toughskins in the 70s because they were fashionable. Rather, these infamous Sears pants were constructed from the closest thing to Kryptonite the fashion world had ever created, a fabric that could take some serious kid punishment and live to tell the tale. Sears guaranteed it.

Toughskins first hit store shelves in 1971 and were offered in a plethora of “interesting” colors (raise your hand if you owned a magenta pair!). Market research had shown that when it came to children’s clothing, durability was on the top of parent’s list.

So Sears developed a fabric comprised of Dacron Type 59 polyester, DuPont 420 nylon, and cotton. They touted it as “The toughest of Sears tough jeans…lab tests prove it!”


Parents ate it up and soon millions of kids were wearing some seriously thick, odd-colored pants with a big ugly leather patch on the back.

And when we were youngsters that was fine. Nobody paid attention to anything but having fun. But once we started to develop any sort of fashion sense, Toughskins were the first thing we wanted thrown away, or mercilessly handed down to a younger sibling.

After all, they were virtually indestructible. Might as well let your little brother get some more use out of them.

If you were the proud owner of a couple of pairs of Sears Toughskins as a kid, I hope you’ll share your recollections of these unforgettable pants with everyone in our comments section.

You may also like...

18 Responses

  1. Lu says:

    Sadly, I was in the generation before that, and my Sears jeans were branded “Roebucks”. They didn’t fit or look like Levi jeans, nor did they satisfy the ego of a tween in the 60’s.

    • 70sKid says:

      I suspect that there are millions of former Toughskins owners who can sympathize, despite the subtle differences. 🙂
      Thanks for the comment, Lu!

      • Anonymous says:

        Hi Lu, you didn’t miss anything. The color and look of tough skins made the look completely different than Levi’s. When my sisters bought me a pair of Levi’s for Christmas when I was in third grade. I never wore the tough skins again. Plus

  2. crazylady says:

    These jeans were so thick they practically stood up on their own.

  3. Gray Siegel says:

    …and do you remember ordering these from the Sears catalog? You’d get a postcard in the mail letting you know that they arrived at the Sears store and were ready for pickup. Then when you got to the store, you’d look in the cubby for your order package.

  4. Jason says:

    And their wonderfully colored patches on the knees, knee protectors. Lol

  5. I LOVED my ToughSkins. Protected my 4th Point of Contact from MANY a paddling in School (from the very same paddle my Pop & Uncle made when THEY were School) Saved my hide from Road Rash whenever I failed a bike stunt. Dang sure never made shorts out of ’em! There weren’t scissors made that could cut them, for one and two, the knees never “developed” holes to warrant such an operation .

  6. 1960’s kid says:

    Wow ! Sad unappreciated to the way his mother tried to provide. Be glad you got something new to wear not hand me downs like many did !

  7. They were terrible when they got old
    And the knee coating would crack and irritate your legs. Usually about the end of the school years and cut them down to jean shorts….

  8. Stelth says:

    How I hated wearing Toughskins! First off, they never broke-in like regular pants…they were always stiff and uncomfortable. The knees were reinforced with plastic-y patches which stuck to you in hot weather. Finally, they looked terrible. The cool kids wore Levis and Lee jeans and I was stuck with these damn things.

  9. Jeff Kelly says:

    My mom made sure we all had lots of Sears Toughskin jeans. I was probably wearing them while jumping my banana seat bike over homemade Evel Knievil wooden ramps.

  10. Jack Lannom says:

    Yep and I used to make fun of my older brother because he had to wear the Huskies!

  11. Bad Jeans says:

    OMG! I remember these! When I wasn’t in hand-me-downs from a cousin, I was in these! Those patches could make the jeans stand on their own like one person said! And if I remember correctly, when the rest of the jean material started to fade from wear, the area the patches were sewn or glued into never faded. So you could see EXACTLY where your patches were!!! HAHAHAAAAA! Good times. Loved looking through the Sears catalogs, especially their Christmas “Wish Books.”

  12. Anonymous says:

    Orange. Knee patches. Those pants were indestructible.

  13. Scott says:

    In 5th grade I thought I was cool because I got these new Puma shoes that lots of kids wanted. One day in a class a few of us were making fun of another kids shoes (I’m not proud of it) and one of my friends said to me “What are you laughing about? You’re wearing green Toughskins!”. Got a lesson in humility and fashion all in one day lol.

  1. December 27, 2021

    […] Be Giants’ two Johns (Linnell and Flansburgh) have distilled the perfect pop mix of snot and Toughskins for the Malcolm In The Middle opening credits. They’ve released an mp3-only record, and even […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *