Not This Dad’s Jeans – A Response To The Reemerging Phenomenon

Not This Dad's Jeans

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.

Dad's Jeans Example

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 Acnethat 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?  

Jon Dalley

Jon is crazy about books, music, movies, motorcycles, and, of course, raw denim. He contends that the best method of breaking in a pair of raw denim is to ride a Triumph Bonneville T100 hard and often. Check out his Instagram with the handle RawrJonD.

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  • Devan Prithipaul

    Grade 10 English-Essay writing assignment.

  • BS detector

    If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably a denimhead, thus are very specific in your attraction to the finer points of raw and selvedge denim. Why is it even necessary to confuse your tastes and objections with those of the NYT and “Dad Jeans”, and the comments of the fashion bloggers ? I have 501’s, Wranglers, Lee’s, and Big E’s older than most of you, thus chill out, take a trip to Kojima. No ones forcing you to buy Dad or Mom jeans…what’s the problem ?

  • Self Edge – Kiya

    Do not want.

  • FRINGECLASS!

    ever since I got into a pair of raw denim, I saw no reason to ever buy a pair of treated denims ever again. but like all things, people will do some bullshit, then itll get some press. some people will catch onto it, most will hate. itll get more press. more people catch onto it, til it becomes the norm and people act like they were always down with it. same shit happened with skinny jeans and pop music, which im not down with either of. face it, most people are sheep.

    • J. Davis

      The same goes for raw denim. So how does it feel to be one of the herd?

      • FRINGECLASS

        i understand that the roy Portland shirt has really hurt you, but your cause sucks. go plant a garden, feed someone, someshit.

        • J. Davis

          You didn’t answer the question. Perhaps the herd mentality has affected your ability to think independently. Too bad. But the garden idea sounds like a winner. I’ll give it a shot.

          • FRINGECLASS

            nah, I get it. I subscribe to the raw denim herd. that’s why im on this website. you?

  • J. Davis

    What, you mean to tell me that there are actually people out there who don’t want to spend $200 + dollars on a pair of low rise, slim-fit Nudies, 3Sixteen, or Roy (etc.) and then actually take the time to break those bad boys in proper? How dare they! These heathens must be rounded up and marched post-haste to their local Self Edge store where they will kneel before the altar of the raw denim gods and forced to make an offering to atone for their sins. (Of course, this offering will consist of a ridiculous amount of money, at which point they will receive a pair of Iron Heart Jeans and a Roy “Portland” shirt as a sign of forgiveness and acceptance into the raw denim community.) A big thanks to Jon for reminding us all of this egregious fashion behavior and encouraging us true believers to stay faithful to our worship of sick fades, honeycombed knees, and selvedge cuffs. Who knows how many people would have actually bought washed (gasp!) jeans had this article not been written. Well done!

    • FRINGECLASS!

      you should read the linked article, these people are spending as much and more on “dad jeans” to “distance themselves from the urban lumberjacks”. the article reads like its a raw denim backlash, so, relevant to this site.

      • J. Davis

        I read the article, and how dare they have a difference of opinion from the clearly superior, “Urban lumberjacks” who only deal in raw denim. My original point stands, sheep boy!

        • Roy Portland Shirt

          BOO!!

    • Warped Weft

      Was a sarcastic and vitriolic dismissal of such an article really necessary? At no point does the writer poke fun at or mock those buying dad jeans; rather, he questions their aesthetic sensibilities along with their reasoning behind purchasing these jeans. Yet you thought it necessary to take the time to respond with a sophomoric rant. “Well done!”

      The “tenth-grade English assignment” should be for many people commenting here to brush up on reading comprehension. The article isn’t outright condemning those who reach for dad jeans; read the final two paragraphs and you’ll see that he’s stating that taking the time to break in your denim is a rewarding experience. That’s the point throughout.

      If you keep reading it as a total condemnation of anyone who doesn’t buy raw, then you’ve taken a left turn somewhere. There is no holier-than-thou sentiments here: only a defense of raw in the face of the “super-stylish” purchasing pre-treated denim.

      • J. Davis

        Cry harder! And when your done wiping your tears away, wake up and get a grip. Some of the biggest fashion snobs are right here, in this forum, offering us articles such as this as to why we should take it raw, and only raw. Face it, raw denim has become something akin to a religion. You have your objects of worship (loomstate denim, anyone?), you have your places of worship (Self Edge, among others), you have your priests (Roy Slaper, and other one man brands), you even have your commandments (thou shalt not wash any raw denim in less than 6 months, if ever), and you even have Raw denim apologists, such as yourself, Warped Weft. I find it amusing that you, and others, take this sooooo seriously. Thanks for the laughs. Now go get a life.

        • FRINGECLASS

          and don’t forget the belief in spirits and ghosts, such as the roy slapper Portland shirt that’s been going around haunting you.

        • FRINGECLASS

          and don’t forget the belief in spirits and ghosts, such as the roy slapper Portland shirt that’s been going around haunting you causing you all off this distress.

  • trehsu

    Who cares.

  • Davil

    Not even sure how people think dad jeans are cool, when most “dads” dont even think their jeans are cool. They wear them because they are comfortble, and unlike most other things (jr’s college fund, the morgage, the car, ect) they are cheap. Seems like a case of, “if you build it, they will come”. Whats next? Granny Panties being the hot thing?

  • onekae

    The majority of us are following fashion trends one way or another, especially here in a “denimhead” community. It’s quite useless and even counterproductive to defend the “right way” to be fashionable or to pursue fashion. Just wear what you like and stop policing the fashion world.

    This “look at these ridiculously expensive dad jeans” sentiment is coming from a subculture who swears to wear nothing but “denim in its purest form”, a subculture that will probably stay a subculture within fashion culture for as long as the concept of fashion exists. This is the subculture obsessed with taking pictures of their jeans in the sun to post on the internet, sanding creases on their jeans and lying about them being naturally-set, frowning at usage of front pockets to develop dem sick whiskers…list goes on.

    It’s unreasonable to impose fashion “common sense” like what some of the comment writers and this article’s writer is trying to do. It’s hive-minded elitism. There are probably just as many, if not more raw denim enthusiasts who make ill-informed purchase decisions as your Average Joe with money who will buy whatever some magazine says is fashionable.

    What article should we see next? One about sanforized denim being sacrilege? Loomstate or no state? Silly non-Japan-produced-denim-wearing peasant class emergence?

  • GW

    Of course they’re going to start pushing something different… because different means sales. The companies they mention aren’t respected by denim heads anyway, so they might as well push something other than raw selvedge because they’re not going to win that game.

  • Grandier

    can we all just agree that everybody is entitled to use their money to buy anything they want? there’s no absolute rule that everybody must buy raw denim or dad jeans.

    let them buy whatever they want. why should we, raw denim lovers, criticize what they like?

  • BrownTrousers

    The fashion industry was always going to re-invent jeans to flog more of them. If you don’t like it don’t follow the fashion.

    I’ve bought into raw denim because I like the quality, I never went in for the skinny fit business because I’m a middle aged bloke and I’d look ridiculous in ‘em. So I wear a standard straight leg.

    I can honestly say I’ve never understood why anyone would want to buy worn out jeans, when I can wear ‘em out myself. Fads for washed out denim, stone wash, acid wash, stretch denim, ripped denim, denim with unnecessary seams and additional pockets all passed me by as I stuck with classic 501s or similar.

    Then raw denim made its appearance and it opened my eyes to the qualities of good denim. Now I look for heavier denim than I used to wear and I don’t wash them as much as I did.

    Fashion is transient, style is timeless.

  • blake

    in my opinion, the problem is that we now see raw, selvedge denim available in banana republic, jcrew, etc. hell probably old navy will have it soon enough. people on the cutting edge of trends don’t want to look like everyone else. the “cycle” of fashion discussed in the opening of this article is, in my opinion, driven by “what are people not tired of looking at?” Wearing raw denim with the cuffs flipped to show that tell-tale red ticking used to be a subtle way to demonstrate that you knew the difference, you had discerning tastes, and you appreciated artisanal craftsmenship and went out of your way to pay extra for it. i can’t tell you how many times over the past 3 or 4 years now, it seems, I have seen someone wearing a pair of raw denim, selvedge details, and some decent fades of a brand i didn’t recognize. 7 or 8 years ago that never happened. More often than not, now, i find someone told them not to wash it, but they don’t know anything about the denim, don’t know anything about the history, and just bought them at the mall. That’s why the current is changing.

  • brinebombs

    Notice some of the same people(APC) that promoted the raw denim myths(wear for 6-months before washing, sea soak, buy two sizes too small)are now shilling Dad Jeans? The selfedge guys promote washing your jeans every two weeks and buying jeans that fit, read the Put This On interview. If you want Dad Jeans just wash the jeans you already bought more regularly. I get the joke, but pre-distressed denim will always be for douche bags/Jersey Shore types.

  • Hanif

    surprise the writer didnt focus on the cut. These “fashion snobs” wear high rise straight/loose cut like a man. And all these “purist denim heads” downsize two on a slim tapered jeans and freak out whenever their raw denim soaked in rain before 6 months . If someone ask me who is the dumb one, I will say the latter.

  • Johnson

    Who gives a Shit?
    it’s ”just” jeans. buy them, wear them and mellow out. it’s ridiculous to to argue over, no matter how dedicated one feels to the use of raw’s or store bought pre faded soft jeans with buttons made of plastic. Whether it’s raw or not it’s all equally part of the ”evil fashion machine”.