Torn Shreds of Fashion

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Torn Shreds of Fashion

Torn Shreds of Fashion
Torn Shreds of Fashion


The distressed look that today’s youth chose to don has come a long way since ripped jeans since they were first introduced in the fashion industry. Nowadays it’s a common feature to have your clothes shot, nibbled or covered in fake mud to turn heads. Name any celebrity or a commoner…everyone’s at it. But why does it matter now?

The rich are now going in for the poor man look! While those who don’t have the money to spend on clothes are left dreaming of wearing decent clothes. The very idea of pre-distressing clothes that is purposefully ripping, tearing or slashing threads even before being sold or worn – has been around for years.

There are jeans that look like they’ve been run over by a lawnmower; T-shirts that look like they’ve had a packet of cigarettes put out on them and hoodies that look they’ve been nibbled by a rabbit. If you can’t lay your hands on one then the youngsters of today buy a normal pair of jeans and spend hours using a blade to tear the clothes and reduce them to shreds before wearing them.

The morally problematic idea of “dressing poor” is a disturbing factor. The credit for this look actually should go to those people who are actually doing manual labour and can’t afford new jeans. The garage mechanics the ranch boy etc. people want to dress that way to give the impression that they are cool with this kind of a look without even getting under a car or changing a tyre!

In a 2010 thesis, Kate Louise Rhodes describes how “the wearer can choose to dabble with the look of poverty while simultaneously adding to his or her symbolic waste” given that the distressed look “adds labour intensive ornamentation … that require further processing and manual labour to create them.” Mike Rowe, the former presenter of the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs and an advocate for the value of skilled trades, says that the jeans “foster the illusion of work and the illusion of effort… They’re a costume for wealthy people…”

It’s all too tempting to draw a line between violent times and bullet-hole T-shirts, for one. And between age where fewer people are doing the kinds of manual jobs that make for dirty jeans and fake-mud.

What we are seeing today compared to what’s gone before is, according to Glenville, “much heavier-handed … a slight overstatement”. In the age of Instagram, twitter, facebook – where trends are born and burgeon on social media feeds clothes with extra oomph get more mileage on social media.

Young people are looking at really distressed clothes that are filthy with oil or mud strains, or shoes that look like they’ve been through a cattle drive, to really make that style statement and follow the fashion. It is, very hard to shock anybody…?

Perhaps the idea of wallowing in filth and grime, a poor guy look without actually getting your hands dirty, is the biggest shock for fashionistas you can imagine.


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