Killing the people you're pretending to be
September 11, 2014 7:45 AM   Subscribe

Jacob Brogan of Georgetown University writes in the Washington Post about the ethics of wearing pre-distressed jeans.

While the relationship between labor and the wearer represented by predistressed jeans might be troublesome:
For almost a century, blue jeans have been a quintessential item of work wear because labor leaves its mark on the fabric. The longer we wear a pair of jeans, the more their outer coating fades, gradually revealing the gray or white fibers beneath. Because denim loses color fastest at spots where we apply the most pressure, authentic fade patterns can reveal a great deal about what we do while we wear our pants.
...
While the fashion cognoscenti occasionally declare such garments “out,” pre-faded pants have refused to fade. This may be precisely because they allow us to fantasize about increasingly distant forms of manual labor. Pre-distressed denim is a fantasy object, one that allows us to play at being someone else without leaving our digital bubbles. ... When we casually pretend to be a cowboy or a car mechanic, manual labor starts to seem a little less real, and a little less substantial.
a larger concern is the actual effect of those artificial weathering processes on the garment workers themselves:
Traditionally, garment factories have used sandblasters to selectively strip layers of dye from denim. In 2005, a Turkish physician definitively demonstrated that textile workers who operated these machines were developing silicosis at alarming rates. An incurable and often fatal respiratory disease, silicosis had long been associated with professions like mining. But where silicosis had previously taken decades to set in, workers in textile sand blasting facilities sometimes contract it in mere months. The irony of this situation should not escape us. The laborers who make our pants for us are dying of the very illness that once afflicted the workers our pants resemble.

Despite efforts to ban or otherwise restrict sandblasting, it has yet to disappear completely. A 2013 study of six Chinese textile factories found that sandblasting is still widely practiced.
(Further down the weathered-jeans semiotic rabbit hole: "These Burton [snowboarding] pants embrace the worn-denim trope but take it a step further. They’re actually made of a waterproof Gore-Tex fabric and made to look like jeans through 'photo sublimation,' according to USA Today: 'a photo was taken of a pair of tattered jeans then printed onto the garments via a technical heat process.' So what we have here is a representation of a simulacrum of tattered, faded, authentic pants-with-a-history. Fine. Let’s stipulate that the pants signify jeans; and jeans signify — what?")
posted by orthicon halo (80 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
Once the article gets to the point - the negative health impact of sandblasting denim - it is good. But all of the hand-waving about pretending to be a mechanic, and the ludicrous aside about iphone gestures, almost made me stop reading.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:50 AM on September 11, 2014 [16 favorites]


The hidden consequences of our choices and desires on people we never know and often don't contemplate are endlessly fascinating and sometimes quite chilling.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:51 AM on September 11, 2014 [29 favorites]


Is it 1983? Am I having a stroke? Will there be an article next week on the perils of MTV and its impacts on youth's attention span?
posted by entropicamericana at 7:52 AM on September 11, 2014 [9 favorites]


How did this guy get semiotics and ethics mixed up?
posted by GuyZero at 7:53 AM on September 11, 2014 [10 favorites]


How much for the simulated gigolo jeans?
posted by fairmettle at 7:58 AM on September 11, 2014


Another problem the world wouldn't have if we stopped wearing clothing.
posted by oceanjesse at 8:00 AM on September 11, 2014 [6 favorites]


Is it ok to wear predistressed jeans if you are actually a mechanic? Asking for a friend.

Can you even get jeans that aren't at least somewhat predistressed without going to a Special Costly Pants Place?
posted by helicomatic at 8:03 AM on September 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


the workers our pants resemble

Sometimes an otherwise just silly grammatical confusion actually reveals a lot about the quality of a writer's "thinking." But don't worry, I'm sure he'll be back next week with a hot take about his realization, born of obviously hard toil in the #slatepitch mines, that pantsless labor can be labor too.
posted by RogerB at 8:04 AM on September 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


But all of the hand-waving about pretending to be a mechanic, and the ludicrous aside about iphone gestures, almost made me stop reading.

Same, that was awful and I cringed horribly throughout.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:06 AM on September 11, 2014


We should stop wearing pre-distressed jeans for all these reasons and also because wearing new, unaltered denim and watching it weather and fade and contour to your body is one of the most satisfying things about wearing jeans.
posted by Hey Dean Yeager! at 8:07 AM on September 11, 2014 [24 favorites]


Gosh. I wonder what he would say about all the non-cowpeople wearing cowboy boots or all the non-ballet-dancers wearing ballet flats!

It's a good point about the damage that the process does to workers, but I think that it's part of a much bigger problem.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:08 AM on September 11, 2014


Is it 1983? Am I having a stroke? Will there be an article next week on the perils of MTV and its impacts on youth's attention span?

This is pretty much my reaction. The article may have had a point in a former time, when there still was an association between denim and manual labor, but we've killed that association so thoroughly that the article feels really out of place with 2014 associations with denim.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:13 AM on September 11, 2014


Still, you've got to admire how well this piece ("What Raw Denim Taught Me About Labor Politics") fits that maximum-clickbait formula, "what [fashionable creative class lifestyle choice] taught me about [form of oppression]."
posted by RogerB at 8:15 AM on September 11, 2014 [24 favorites]


The problem is working conditions, not the jeans. Sand blasting isn't going to give you lung disease if you have the correct PPE. Wear a properly fitted respirator with the correct filter, safety glasses and face guard.
These are the same issues with many other forms of clothes manufacturing. We need to demand better working conditions for the workers.
posted by MrBobaFett at 8:18 AM on September 11, 2014 [21 favorites]


Is there some reason a blast cabinet couldn't be used?
posted by festivus at 8:18 AM on September 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Most importantly, the denim of distressed jeans is utterly unlike the denim of manual laborers. My relatives wear sturdy jeans, roomy enough to do work in, often with with carpenter's loops.

The fact that Brogan lumps mechanics together with cowboys further cements his disconnect from reality. "Manual laborers, you know! Like mechanics! And, uh, cowboys!"

The sandblasting stuff is a separate issue, although I would be astonished if his own sartorial choices couldn't also be in some way criticized for their effect on their workers.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:19 AM on September 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


God, you can just feel him straining to call something cultural appropriation, but he isn't quite sure white people can do that to each other, and nobody has really quite accepted the concept of class appropriation yet, and he's just not sure where to go...

Also, someone needs to make a New Yorker cartoon about this guy so I can replace the caption.
posted by Naberius at 8:19 AM on September 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


This is why I stick to wearing second-hand Dickies jumpsuits.
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:23 AM on September 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


I was once told that the late 16th century male fashion for slashed cutouts in doublets and/or those odd puffball pants was the Shakespearean era equivalent of distressed jeans.

The argument went that the slash effect was to make it look as though you'd just come from fighting a duel - the sword had cut through your outer garment and the contrasting fabric of the inner garment had started to poke through the rip.

It was probably total cobblers. (I don't recall any issue with seamstress working conditions.)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:25 AM on September 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


nobody has really quite accepted the concept of class appropriation yet

That would usually be called "slumming," tho, right? But that term has gross racist implications and I haven't seen it used in a while.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:26 AM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


No doubt, cultural context informs the choice of one garment over another. But it would be foolish to believe that aesthetic choice is always self-consciously political. Remember: what you mean is not always what others hear. Often, you say things you never intended. Fashion is one way we get to talk back to and change the popular discourse: our trends (sartorial or otherwise) reflect our lives, our concerns, and our reality. Being conscious of the messages we’re sending lets us better say what we mean, and better understand what we’re being told.
Translation: "In conclusion, fashion is a land of contrasts."
posted by deanc at 8:27 AM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Can't you feel the rock dust in your lungs?
It'll cut down a miner when he is still young
Two years and the silicosis takes hold
and I feel like I'm dying from mining for gold."

Plus ça change...
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:30 AM on September 11, 2014


Let the workers wear the jeans until the right look is achieved.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:31 AM on September 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Has Jacob Brogan ever worn brogans? I am troubled by his heedless appropriation of 19th century working class shoes.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:32 AM on September 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


On the semiotics aspect -- I always thought there was a similarity between demand for distressed jeans, and the demand for pre-distressed electric guitars, a treatment to new instruments that began in the '90s and has become very popular.

Pre-distressed guitars got their start when Fender, maker of the Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars, got requests from A-list musicians to recreate a vintage instrument they owned so that they could keep up the appearance of playing an old guitar on stage, while protecting the real thing, worth tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, by keeping it at home and not on tour.

The "Relics," as they are called, feature paint jobs that mimick the appearance of nitrocellulose clear-coat and colored lacquer (a paint process abandoned by major manufacturers in the 1970s and 80s for a variety of practical and regulatory reasons), worn clear through to the wood. If you've ever seen a photo of Stevie Ray Vaughan with his beat-up 1963 Stratocaster, your know the archetypal look of the relic. The necks of relics are also worn and the lacquer stripped away, discolored to a woody gray and contrasting with the rest of the yellowish neck of the guitar. The fretboards have similar oblong and oval wear marks in between the frets representing the most commonly played "cowboy chords" -- open-string voicings that all guitarists learn, G, D, A, E, and C. The plastic on knobs, pickguards, switches, and pickup covers are faded and discolored in the same way they might if they were left in the sun, or exposed to cigarette smoke, or left in the case for a very long time.

The Relics became instant hits. Musicians and hobbyists at all levels wanted them. Some say they liked them because the worn-in feel is objectively more comfortable than a brand new guitar. Others like them because they look like vintage guitars which are probably more expensive than the premium-priced Relics, and definitely harder to come by.

A cottage industry of companies who would 'relic' your guitar to order started to emerge. Various woodworkers and builders developed techniques to take a brand new guitar and make them appear vintage, distressed, reliced. People argue over whose methods are more authentic. Premium custom guitar small shops like Nash, Danocaster, and Rocketfire, best described as assemblers with a flair for woodworking, focus entirely on building guitars that look and feel like they were built in the 1950s and have seen thousands of smoky music halls and beer-soaked bars.

Some people love the relics, and other people love to hate them. Guitar-oriented forums like The Gear Page and Harmony Central see threads on a regular basis along the lines of "so what's the big deal about relics," typically with one cohort ridiculing the "fake" or "wannabe vintage" aspects of the pre-distressed guitars, and another cohort insisting that the guitars feel and play better than non-distressed guitars. Like the jeans, a distressed guitar imparts a cachet of blue-collar authenticity to its wearer. Like the jeans, there is an undeniable signal of inauthenticity underlying the whole thing. Pointing this out makes people unhappy and type nasty retorts, and so the topic is popular on internet forums.

Personally I'm of the opinion that a guitar is a guitar, and if it pleases you to play it, you should play it.
posted by scelerat at 8:33 AM on September 11, 2014 [24 favorites]


I was once told that the late 16th century male fashion for slashed cutouts in doublets and/or those odd puffball pants was the Shakespearean era equivalent of distressed jeans.

Apparently you could catch fashionable young people running around 5th-century Constantinople with raggedy (probably pre-distressed knowing how hipsters are) mouse-skin capes and other accessories appropriated directly from the Huns.
posted by Copronymus at 8:37 AM on September 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


I simply cannot believe that a professor of English would want to examine something overlooked through a critical lens, considering its cultural and social implications
posted by threeants at 8:37 AM on September 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


Anyone else old enough to remember jeans that were durable enough to last until they were weathered?

so...much...lost...
posted by Muddler at 8:41 AM on September 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


I expected this guy to be like, 70. He's soooo behind the times. Raw denim is in. That's denim that hasn't been washed, treated, faded, etc. The 'distressing' occurs naturally.

Can I wear 'workwear' clothes that mimic manual laborers? On the one hand, I'm the son of a plumber who grew up on a construction site and works on his car for fun. On the other hand, I'm typing this in an Ivy League library.

I guess the answer is: wear whatever you want (so long as the workers making it are treated fairly and it is environmentally safe.)
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:43 AM on September 11, 2014


Apparently you could catch fashionable young people running around 5th-century Constantinople with raggedy (probably pre-distressed knowing how hipsters are) mouse-skin capes and other accessories appropriated directly from the Huns.

There were, in fact, laws in the 5th century city of Rome prohibiting men from having long hair and wearing trousers, i.e. dressing like the barabarians.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:43 AM on September 11, 2014


It was probably total cobblers.

My brain is trying to parse this, is this an expression of the time (or made to be like) - how we would say "It was probably totally bonkers" "It was totally probably random" ... can't figure out shoe makers vs pastry + fruit dish that's more 20th century.

However,

(I don't recall any issue with seamstress working conditions.)

Here's a springboard into the subject from Jane Austen's time. I think more of the distressing conditions came in the fabric making: spinning up yarn, weaving, dyeing, finish work before it could be made into a finished garment..
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 8:43 AM on September 11, 2014


My brain is trying to parse this

What Cockney Rhyming Slang Taught Me About Cultural Authenticity on the Internet
posted by RogerB at 8:47 AM on September 11, 2014 [8 favorites]


The trick to achieving maximum authenticity is to buy the most expensive good that isn't quite expensive enough to be marketed exclusively to rich people.
posted by a dangerous ruin at 8:52 AM on September 11, 2014 [6 favorites]


I simply cannot believe that a professor of English would want to examine something overlooked through a critical lens, considering its cultural and social implications

This isn't a "get out of jail free card" for writing something stupid.

Using "a critical lens" has become something of an exercise in "paint by numbers." We have a few theories out there-- post-colonialism theory, Marxist theory, post-structuralism -- and critics pick a few cultural totems and fill in the blanks to explain how they fit into the theory. Add in the professional "publish or perish" issues academics face, and they are constantly driven to keep looking for these critical opportunities, down to decades-old fashion trends.

Ignored is also the issue that the dye of raw denim runs and the jeans shrink, so some pre-treatment is necessary-- the "breaking in" process was an artifact of clothing manufacturing limitations of the time when they were first introduced.
posted by deanc at 8:56 AM on September 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


Actually the trick is to only wear things that have never been worn by anyone anywhere ever, such as this diaper I've fashioned from the pages of water-damaged and otherwise discarded incunabula
posted by theodolite at 8:56 AM on September 11, 2014 [13 favorites]


I simply cannot believe that a professor of English would want to examine something overlooked through a critical lens, considering its cultural and social implications

People are reacting to the fact that he did such a poor job of it. If a plumber tried to fix my toilet, but instead wound up breaking it and flooding my house instead, we wouldn't say, "what, like you didn't expect the plumber to handle pipes?"
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:01 AM on September 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


eh, i think a better analogy would be if a plumber went around with a monkey wrench and tried to unscrew branches from trees
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:05 AM on September 11, 2014 [8 favorites]


How I knew when I was old: the thought of buying pants with a hole already in them was incomprehensible.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:20 AM on September 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm glad I read through to the part about health effects of the process, though the rest struck me as BS.

The other thing that struck me about the discussion of trying to seem like a manual labourer with distressed jeans is the repeated use of "we" and "us" to imply that "we" do not actally work. "Everyone knows that people who read newsapers don't wear jeans to work and if they do, only wear out the butt." he seems to say.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:20 AM on September 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


eh, i think a better analogy would be if a plumber went around with a monkey wrench and tried to unscrew branches from trees

Or if the plumber just stood around chiding you for using the toilet like a common chimney sweep.
posted by Naberius at 9:20 AM on September 11, 2014


On the topic of jeans fabric, am I alone in thinking that the actual, non-"weathered" jeans material used by co's such as The Gap is really different from the Levi's material of my distant youth?

I have 501s and 1969 jeans that I've washed a flock of times, but they're just not getting softer and more broken-in. It feels as if the "denim" or whatever space-age polymer they're using won't ever fade the way jeans should.
posted by the sobsister at 9:34 AM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I expected this guy to be like, 70. He's soooo behind the times. Raw denim is in. That's denim that hasn't been washed, treated, faded, etc. The 'distressing' occurs naturally.

Have any of you been to /r/rawdenim? I had no idea the obessession with denim went this far. They have meet-ups on a regular basis, too (where they talk about and compare their jeans? IDEK.)

They had a big thread the other day about how they get picked on by the TSA for wearing their fancy thick jeans.

(I can't get my head around the concept of NEVER WASHING YOUR PANTS)
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 9:36 AM on September 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


the thought of buying pants with a hole already in them was incomprehensible.

Where do you purchase these jeans without any holes in them at all, and are they capable of floating across a room autonomously, like strange unwearable denim zeppelins
posted by oulipian at 9:38 AM on September 11, 2014 [11 favorites]


Have any of you been to /r/rawdenim?

I have been lurking there a lot recently. It is equal parts genuinely neat info on super-expensive pants and terrifyingly vacuous commodity fetishism, and I love to spectate on both from a safe distance.
posted by RogerB at 9:40 AM on September 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


I think 90% of the reason distressed jeans keep coming into style is because nobody has come up with any better ways to jazz up plain old pants. Look at how long cargo pants were popular. Nobody ever used those pockets for shit, but damn if we didn't all have them.
posted by gueneverey at 10:03 AM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


The thing I hate about raw denim is that I can't wear it enough to get sick fades. I got some 511 raws this summer and, while I set them as soon as I got them, I still haven't been able to wear them yet. They're a little too rugged for Casual Friday, and it's still too hot for long pants at home. Soon, though, winter will surly leave its mark.

My other jeans, though, are getting starting to show the hint of sick fades.

And I totally get not washing jeans! I never wash mine any more unless they get REALLY nasty - instead, I hang them in front of a fan after I wear them, and put them out on a line in the sun as often as I can. I think it's really added to the lifespan of the jeans.
posted by rebent at 10:03 AM on September 11, 2014


And I totally get not washing jeans! I never wash mine any more unless they get REALLY nasty - instead, I hang them in front of a fan after I wear them, and put them out on a line in the sun as often as I can. I think it's really added to the lifespan of the jeans.

Wait, what? Do you not sweat? From extensive travel experience I have discovered that if I wear jeans more than twice without washing, they get physically repulsive to touch, never mind the smell.

Look at how long cargo pants were popular. Nobody ever used those pockets for shit, but damn if we didn't all have them.

Not true. Some of us carry a lot of crap around and cargo pants were a godsend.

posted by psoas at 10:10 AM on September 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


Do you not sweat?

Some people just don't seem to and by god it is so provoking. Like really how dare they not turn into gorillas in the mist when the temperature goes above 76 or so.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:12 AM on September 11, 2014 [6 favorites]


This seams like something that could be easily automated. Then the works would just need to be trained on loading/unloading the machine, and avoid all the negative side effects.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:20 AM on September 11, 2014


I only wear clothes from the Derelique line.
posted by malocchio at 10:20 AM on September 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


I wear mostly raw denim, although I don't go for the over $150 a pair stuff. I don't wash mine much, either, and I'm a big dude who can get sweaty in the humid heat of my current climate. I usually just toss em on a line in the sun for a few hours, or put them in the freezer overnight, and both work fine for common smelliness issues. And, really, the difference in construction between a decent pair of raw jeans and something like Levis mainline is just huge; decent raw denim can last for years and years of daily wear, while Levis will invariably blow out within a year, tops.

I'm not sure about the WaPo piece; seems confused, and perhaps rushed or abbreviated. I do think, though, that it raises some pretty compelling points about appropriation and exploitation, and would actually like to see a longer piece using denim as a case study to explore those issues.
posted by still bill at 10:31 AM on September 11, 2014


Or as Barbara Kingsolver put it in Animal Dreams (1990):
You know how they make those? They wash them in a big machine with this special kind of gravel they get out of volcanic mountains. The prettiest mountains you ever saw in your life. But they’re fragile, like a big pile of sugar. Levi Strauss or whoever goes in there with bulldozers and chainsaws and cuts down the trees and rips the mountainside to hell, so that all us lucky Americans can wear jeans that look like somebody threw them in the garbage before we got them.
I actually thought the piece would go more in this direction when I saw the title.
posted by the_blizz at 10:32 AM on September 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


Like the jeans, a distressed guitar imparts a cachet of blue-collar authenticity to its wearer.

You always had this going on long before they started faking them. Keith Richards or Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen wanted a beat-up old guitar to prove their credentials as 'authentic' blues/folk/rock dudes while wearing old jeans, while Chuck Berry or John Lee Hooker or BB King take the stage with immaculately polished instruments, bespoke suits and huge Rolexes.
posted by colie at 10:32 AM on September 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


I buy pre-distressed denim, and pre-distressed wool pants, and pre-distressed everything from the Salvation Army thrift store in my neighbourhood. Because I'm poor and clothes are expensive.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:36 AM on September 11, 2014 [9 favorites]


When I was a young man ( i.e., back in the good ol' days), Levi's were the shit. And they only came one way - indigo dyed so dark blue they were almost black and stiff as a board. The ritual before ever wearing a pair was to soak them in a dilute bleach and warm water solution in the bathtub for a few hours. They would come out much softer and a beautiful blue, though not faded or distressed. People then took great pride in wearing them until the blue was essentially all gone and the knees ripped. (Many of us wore them way past that, too.) Letting someone else stress your jeans is for poseurs.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:36 AM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


The thing I hate about raw denim is that I can't wear it enough to get sick fades.

I got some 511 raws this summer . . .


The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.
posted by jeremias at 10:42 AM on September 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


> Like the jeans, a distressed guitar imparts a cachet of blue-collar authenticity to its wearer.

I haven't played (American) football for quite a while--since I was 11 in fact--but before that first fall practice I and all (I do mean all) the other little kids with our very first big guy uniforms and gear grabbed our pristine, shiny new helmets by the facemask bars and slammed them against a telephone pole a few times to scar 'em up. Wow, tough scrimmage man!
posted by jfuller at 10:51 AM on September 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Still, you've got to admire how well this piece ("What Raw Denim Taught Me About Labor Politics") fits that maximum-clickbait formula, "what [fashionable creative class lifestyle choice] taught me about [form of oppression]."

I was trying to be snide, not write an instruction manual. My god, what have I unleashed on this world?
posted by strangely stunted trees at 11:03 AM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


The hidden consequences of our choices and desires on people we never know and often don't contemplate are endlessly fascinating and sometimes quite chilling.

Society is a complete horror show for the vast majority of people in it.

Do you like sugar? You're killing people in nicaragua.

It just never fucking ends, and the only way to get up in the morning and go to work is to pretend you don't know what's going on. Because if we were ever fully aware of the amount of suffering and death we inflict on the world from our middle class lifestyles, we'd have to tear down the whole fucking system.
posted by empath at 11:05 AM on September 11, 2014 [17 favorites]


I've avoided buying jeans that look like there's some attempt to simulate wear and tear over the years, but not because of ethical concerns. That is a silly argument. It's because they don't actually look like real wear and tear, that you don't get to see for real until you've worn them a couple months. Also, band new stuff, thick denim isn't very comfortable. It gets comfortable later, even without "blue collar work" but by just walking around or sitting in it. If someone wants to pay to get a shortcut to that, I don't blame them. Denim is not a class signifier anymore. It's casual clothing everyone has worn as long as I can remember.
posted by Hoopo at 11:20 AM on September 11, 2014


'Problem' Solved.

Ima get my cultural appropriation from the blue-collar labour of hardscrabble adventurers earning a dishonest day's wage on the backwater planet Pandora.
posted by anonymisc at 11:31 AM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I always wear jeans because I tried wearing 'trousers' once and it was like schmoozing around in your pajamas all day. I had to check whether I was accidentally naked from the waist down a few times. And God help you if you get a random erection.
posted by colie at 11:33 AM on September 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


"Can you even get jeans that aren't at least somewhat predistressed without going to a Special Costly Pants Place?"

I got a pair of Levis that weren't distressed at Macy's since they were on sale a couple weekends ago. The last time I went to Target, I found some Wranglers that were also not pre-distressed. At Target, they literally only had one option that wasn't pre-distressed. I wear my jeans into the ground, so I don't like doing the pre-distressed because then they come apart faster. But my fiancee makes fun of me for wanting jeans that will last five to ten years — my last pair from high school finally gave out last spring, and I've been moaning like a lost cow over it ever since.

One of my tricks was to go to thrift stores, since they often have older jeans with more life in 'em. I wish that I could find stuff like this at Ross, but there it's a struggle to not find jeans with embroidered or bedazzled dragons and shit on them. If you're ever looking for Armenian Ed Hardy knock-offs, I know where to get 'em cheap though.
posted by klangklangston at 11:55 AM on September 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


Just when I thought I was doing well with reused/recycled thrift store jeans THIS comes along...at least there are breadcrumbs to find raw denim so I know what brands involve the labor of middle class raw-denim wearers for distressed patina. And so I know which pairs get a bonus wash-before-wear due to solar/freezer cleaning rituals. If my denim is challenged, am I exploiting the upper middle class???
posted by childofTethys at 12:04 PM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


i can't stand pre-distressed jeans. it's just a thing of mine. it just doesn't feel right. i agree with this sentiment as it comes up in this thread.

what really grinds my gears is that it's still hard to find non-pre-distressed jeans in many stores (gap, macy's, target, kohl's, etc). i'm very happy when i am able to find non-pre-distressed (or at least minimally-pre-distressed) jeans. in those instances, i often buy two if possible.
posted by rude.boy at 12:14 PM on September 11, 2014


Mechanics and Cowboys, easily the best album that The Replacements never released.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 12:16 PM on September 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


The last time I went to Target, I found some Wranglers that were also not pre-distressed.

I bought those Wrangler's too, probably. They've lasted a long time. Let's be jeans twins!
posted by mrgrimm at 12:29 PM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Do you not sweat?

If I'm going to sweat, I'll wear shorts! Why would i wear pants that make me sweaty?

But it's not like I'm incapable of funking up my jeans. But it's amazing how much a difference it makes to hang them up in the air (and light, if possible), instead of throwing them in a heap on the floor. I can't re-wear floor pants more than once, jeans or chinos, whereas I typically re-wear my aired-out pants until I get some sort of gunk on them, or they start to feel oily.
posted by rebent at 12:36 PM on September 11, 2014


This seams like something that could be easily automated.


ISWYDT
posted by Omnomnom at 12:42 PM on September 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


This all got me curious and Google searched and found this in Buzzfeed's "18 Important Things You Should Know About Your Raw Denim":

"8. Don't go longer than a year without washing. The bacteria will eat away at the nether area and you'll blow out your crotch,..."
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:52 PM on September 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yeah, you don't have to wash jeans or take them off or anything. Eventually when they merge with the skin of your legs you just put another pair on over them.
posted by a dangerous ruin at 1:02 PM on September 11, 2014 [6 favorites]


"Wrangler's"

Know how I know you're from Michigan?
posted by klangklangston at 2:24 PM on September 11, 2014


You can blame all this stupidity on the 1980s fad for stone washed and acid washed jeans, which actually seem like a good idea compared to sandblasted jeans.

I hate distressed clothes. My clothes will become distressed soon enough, I want them to last longer, they don't need a head start on deteriorating into rags. I can't afford disposable clothes. I can barely afford to buy clothes at all. My only current pair of jeans is a 20 year old Girbaud X black jeans from way before Girbaud became a fashion atrocity. Those jeans were definitely not distressed the least bit. And now they are falling to pieces. I would sew them back together by hand, if I could get a needle to pass through the seams without using pliers.
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:15 PM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Now that we're pretty far into the thread, I think it's now safe to mention that I dated Jacob Brogan as a freshman in high school (not figuratively, literally the same guy). I don't really have anything else to add, I just felt like I had to share with you guys. What a funny surprise to see his name at the top of the blue today!
posted by dialetheia at 4:37 PM on September 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Now that we're pretty far into the thread, I think it's now safe to mention that I dated Jacob Brogan as a freshman in high school (not figuratively, literally the same guy).

"What we're doing here, in Geometry II, is mocking a long and proud tradition of real, honest geometers— folks that determined which angles were what and really knew how to use a cosine. Maybe we should think twice before we pick up that protractor."
posted by a halcyon day at 5:44 PM on September 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


This entire thread reads like late William Gibson.

The distressed jeans' falling apart or ripping is a feature, not a bug; you need to buy new ones. Note the cloth is thinner too.
posted by bad grammar at 6:07 PM on September 11, 2014


I thought this was a great post, and really enjoyed reading the links. Thanks for making it!
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 6:19 PM on September 11, 2014


this is why i only wear acid washed.... everything.
posted by young_son at 7:41 PM on September 11, 2014


I don't know about today, but twenty years ago I worked for Levi's as a summer job and we used jets of ozone to blast color out of otherwise pristine jeans. To this day, a whiff of ozone and my memory jumps back to the cabinet I stood in front of with a wand where I could point and blast the indigo out of a fresh pair of jeans. I wasn't as much of an artist as some of my coworkers, who could replicate creases and whiskers in seconds. I usually just blasted the knees and thighs and called it good. We also used white pumice stone in huge tumbling washers for stone washed jeans. I remember clearly the feel and smell of taking warm jeans out of the two-story high tumblers and removing stones from the pockets and folding them in boxes to be shipped off. Those were simpler times, I suppose.

FWIW, I still buy my jeans unblemished so I can wear them in myself personally after seeing what machinations we go thru to remove color. Raw denim is an order of magnitude more durable. But, whatever. You want the look you want. *shrug* I still buy the occasional pair of Levi's 501 STF for bopping around the house and remember the old days. Those went straight from the sewing corral to the box, and were mode of unsanfordized denim, so they had the least amount of fakery of all. The last pair I had were made in Ecuador, so even that minimum-wage factory job is long gone form Middle Tennessee now too.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 10:04 PM on September 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


This isn't a "get out of jail free card" for writing something stupid.

It's not that stupid, if it raises a connection that hasn't otherwise occurred to me before, and subsequently enhances, challenges, or revises my understanding of other things that I'm already thinking about or looking at. Quite the opposite.
posted by polymodus at 12:03 AM on September 12, 2014


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