Fashion is cyclical; styles thought to have been completely buried the fashion graveyard are commonly resurrected by the masses. We’ve all seen trends from our childhood years come back with a vengeance but, really, one we’d never expected to see the light of day again was “dad jeans“ ?
According to not only fashion bloggers but also the New York Times, they are back; and whether we like it or not they are laying down roots for a second stay. As a dad, I see this style of pants as akin to buying a mini-van and generally giving up the pursuit of personal gratification.
As with many cultural spheres, trends within fashion generally fall into two categories: a continuation or iteration of a current trend or a rebellion against trends of the moment. Fashionistas see this “return” of the dad jean as a reaction against the tidal wave of skinny jeans seen on nearly every urban and suburban street-corner and what could be deemed the “urban lumberjack” look.
That may explain the fit of these jeans – higher-waisted and looser through the thigh – but it doesn’t even begin to cover why the super-stylish are now leaning toward a lighter, more washed-out and faded colouring.
According to the New York Times article and those quoted within, some “denim snobs” are finding the investment in raw denim too much work. There’s the discomfort — and we’ve all been there — of breaking in a fresh pair of raw denim and then there’s the six-months or more without washing (wait, isn’t that less work?). The answer then, for these fashion-forward individuals, is to reach for pairs of denim that are already softened and faded by pre-washing and pre-treatment.
I have to wonder whether anyone quoted within the Times article espousing the virtues of pre-washed jeans has ever taken the time to properly break in a pair of raw denim. Myself and plenty of others on this site can attest to the fact that our most comfortable pairs of jeans are those upon which our lives have taken a toll.
They’ve conformed in all the right places and their initial rigidity has softened to a hand that rivals and often exceeds any pre-washed pair. Plus there’s the colours and fades brought out in a broken in pair. Sure, you can find some pre-treated jeans that feature whiskering, baked-in wrinkles, and honeycombs that would take some serious time to produce.
Yet you have to do nothing more than take a gander at our Fade Fridays to see that we need no factories to fake our fades for us. Simply wearing a pair creates colouring that is more unique and often clearer in contrast.
Now, there are some brands we feature here, such as A.P.C. and Acne, that have tried to capture this moment in fashion, offering cuts featuring the faded look. To be sure, you’ll probably get a solid pair of denim from them, but I have to wonder why you would ever want to when you can transform a raw pair from the very same brand into your own genuinely unique jean.
In another sense, those opting for the faded, washed-out, softer denim are falling into the same trap that our culture has created for us through our education, our media and our attitudes toward most everything in our lives – they are focusing on the product rather than the process.
It is this last point that strikes home for me and many others when it comes to the draw of raw denim. We are able to trace the development of our denim from the first wear to the day we retire our beloved pairs to the gallery of our wardrobes. Forget fashion for a moment – each fade, each tear and each imperfection is a testament to the time we’ve spent making these jeans ours. How do you put a dollar value on that?