Why Some of Us Still Don’t Get Distressed Jeans
Those of us old enough to remember the now defunct Jensen-Smith, Inc. were convinced that distressed jeans wouldn’t last. We were wrong. Distressed jeans are as popular today as they were when Jensen-Smith employees were taking their products to the gun range and blasting them with shotguns. And we still don’t get why.
Distressed jeans come from the factory with rips, tears, and holes. Back in the 70s, we used to distress our own jeans just by wearing them outside to play. But somewhere, an ingenious marketer came up with the idea of distressing jeans at the factory. What may have seemed like a ridiculous idea turned into a financial juggernaut.
A Brief History of Distressed Jeans
Levi Strauss is credited with coming up with the first pair of blue jeans in the late 1800s. Made from denim, the jeans were a hit with laborers who found them simultaneously comfortable and durable. Over the course of the next 70 to 80 years, jeans were transformed from laborer’s attire to everyday fashion.
Purposely distressed jeans didn’t make it to the scene until the 1970s counter-culture movement. Following the model of their predecessors from the 1960s, 70s-era movers and shakers decided to let their clothing speak as loudly as their vocal cords. They started ripping the sleeves off their jean jackets and making cutoffs from perfectly good pairs of non-distressed jeans.
Their cause was helped by the emerging punk rock scene. Cutting-edge musicians like Johnny Rotten rarely took to the stage without their distressed pants and vests. They went one step further by embellishing their denim with patches, hand-drawn art, and more.
Grunge rockers followed suit in the 1980s. Guys like Kurt Cobain picked up where the Johnny Rotten crowd left off. Fast forward to 1988 when Jensen-Smith introduced buckshot peppered blue jeans. The company went so far as to trademark the name ‘Shotgun Wash’ for their products.
Distressed Jeans for Everyone
Distressed jeans are not just the domain of rock stars and models anymore. According to The Stockist, a Salt Lake City clothing boutique that serves both men and women, distressed jeans are for everyone. You see them wherever you go. Interestingly enough, it is usually the young people who wear them. A person over the age of 35 wearing distressed jeans is a rarity. Perhaps it’s because wisdom comes with age.
“What wisdom,” you ask?
The wisdom that says a pair of jeans that come from the factory whole are likely to last longer than a pair that come distressed. A pair of distressed jeans is already torn and frayed. How much life will get out of them? On the other hand, you can wear a pair of normal jeans for years before they will start looking distressed. Then you can wear them for a couple of more years complete with organic rips and tears.
Function Over Fashion
The reason we older people do not get distressed jeans boils down to our understanding of what clothing is for. We value function over fashion rather than the other way around. And the older we get the more valuable function becomes.
Look, their comes a point in one’s life when just staying warm is a major accomplishment. It doesn’t make sense to put on multiple layers and still have your knees sticking out of your jeans. Why let the draft in? A pair of non-distressed jeans will keep you warmer in the long run.
Distressed jeans really boil down to a fashion preference. Some people like the look, and that’s fine. It takes all kinds to dress the world.