Buying (and wearing) weathered-looking or "distressed" clothing has been an on-again/off-again trend for decades now, and seems to be back.
Does it distress you?
I touched on the topic with a friend of mine yesterday. She opined that, as someone who grew up poor and who received only one new outfit of clothing a year (back in the 1950's), she couldn't grasp why people would want to look intentionally shabby (and in her eyes, poor). She also considered it an affront to the billions of people on this planet who struggle merely to survive. There is something decadent about people wearing clothes that look old when so many people can't afford new.
Do you agree?
|Junya Watanabe, 2002, from the FIT Denim: Fashion's Frontier show|
As a child of the late Sixties and early Seventies, I originally associated the look of weather-beaten clothing with hippies, but as I recall, the ratty jeans they (often) wore were authentically worn, not something ripped and faded in the factory, and they were worn in solidarity with the common people and against the Ivy League establishment (hence the term counterculture) -- or am I seeing things through rose-colored granny glasses? Growing up, my new clothes looked new, and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
I don't remember when this changed: I'm pretty sure there were already stone-washed, faded jeans in stores like the GAP before the grunge look of the early Nineties took hold. Anybody remember?
More recently, I've been seeing distressed, worn-looking knits for sale (even in fabric stores). These first showed up as imitation vintage tee shirts that paid homage to those souvenir tees people bought at rock concerts. Today, the look has expanded to everyday knitwear, including leggings. Who has the patience to allow their clothing to get broken in and worn down on its own?
Last year, I picked up some unusual shirting at Mood Fabrics that was intentionally eroded looking, like it had spent a few decades in a moth-ridden attic (or a battleground). It was Alexander Wang of all things. Last week I finally cut into it and made a shirt.
It's unusual looking and a lot of people think it's cool (and it is -- all those hole facilitate air flow!). But is it an affront to people whose only choice is to wear weather-beaten clothing?
Where do you draw the line between fashion trends and the ridiculous? Generally, distressed fabrics have a shorter lifespan, which makes them more profitable to the manufacturer since they'll have to be replaced faster. Or is this even an issue in a world of disposable, fast fashion?
Readers, what's your take?
Do you like the look and feel of weathered or "distressed" clothing? Will you pay more for acid-washed jeans or ripped leggings, even when you know they're not going to hold up as well as something that looks brand new?
"Distressed" New Clothes -- YEA or NAY?
PS - Learn methods to make your new clothes look old here!