Distressing Jeans

Distressing JeansI went to the store yesterday to buy a pair of jeans, and I found the whole thing somewhat depressing.

I am not a Fashionista. I do not buy clothes for fun, I purchase them out of necessity. My style sense is less than stylish. What few clothes and accessories I have purchased for fun, my ex told me were wildly unfashionable. You know the line. “You aren’t going out wearing that, are you?” But the world is made up of both cavaliers and clowns.

So I went to one of the well-known department store chains. Something above Wally’s World and below Macy’s. The prices are fine, the selection is usually good. They did have a large selection of jeans, but unfortunately not a lot for me to choose from, at least considering my limited style sensibilities.

I get the whole “stressed look” thing. Well, I get that it is some bizarre sort of marketing fashion. It isn’t new. In the late 70’s and early 80’s the stone-washed look hit the scene. Jeans, formally blue or black, boot cut or bell-bottom, became bedazzled and embroidered and pre-faded. Some of these trends have been very trend-ish. They came and went. No one is lining the exterior seam of their jeans with chrome studs anymore. But some of these styles persist, which would seem to defy the concepts of ‘trend’ and ‘fashion’.

Most of the jeans in this large store were of a particular fashion type, regardless of color or manufacturer; they had faded sections on the upper thighs, front and back. The fade I understand. It is a callback to those stone-washed days. But this wasn’t just a faded area. The fades were not a whiter shade of the jeans’ color. Instead it was a rather oily tan color. My first and lasting impulse is the feeling that all those new jeans were extremely dirty, to the point of being gross.

I like my new jeans looking new. If my jeans have holes in them, it is because I tore them doing something. If my jeans are faded, it is because they earned my respect for having been comfortable and long lasting. I see no need to buy new jeans with holes or undeserved fades. And I most certainly will not buy new jeans that look like they have been worn and unwashed for a month.

It all made me wonder about the clothing designers. Since ‘clothes make the man’, how did this oily fade come to be a fashion plus? Are people generally so dirty and unclean that fashion designers assume that is the way we like our jeans to look? Has society has come to revere the look of dirty, unwashed jeans? Or are designers trying to sell us the idea that dirty is cool? Have we become a society of predominantly manual laborers who cannot afford the time or effort to wash? Or do designers think the average person is dirty, so they provide clothes that fit their perception of us?

It all put me in mind of “Zoolander” and the designer, Mugatu, and his ‘Derelique’ line; clothes made of garbage, as if the wearers are nothing more than garbage themselves. Well, I did find a regular cut, non-faded blue, and walked out of the store thinking about all those distressing jeans.

About Sifu Keith Mosher

My new book, "Astro Boy, Sensei, and Me" is available now, as is my Sci-Fi joy ride, "On a Sphere's Edge". I have a Bachelor of Media Arts degree from USC. I have been an Audio Producer / Engineer, a Law Office Manager, and I am currently an Author and a Martial Arts Instructor.
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