The phrase “controversial jeans” sounds like it came right out of some overwritten satire. Jeans are the most conventional staple in the modern fashion world and they have been since the 1950s. Like every piece of fashion the world has ever seen, they’ve had their share of triumphs and failures, but the classic trousers always seem to come out on top. After JNCOs and the Canadian tuxedo, people always come back to the comfortable original style that started when jeans were first taking off. This consistent ebb and flow is part of the controversial jeans are such a strange concept. Most of the jean trends we look back on with embarrassment weren’t contested when they were trendy. People hated on them after the fact. This week, two new styles of jeans hit the market and people immediately started breaking into “love it” and “hate it” camps. Welcome to denim 2017.
The first of 2017’s controversial jeans hit stores early this week. Made entirely out of plastic, these see-through trousers reveal everything underneath them from the waist down. They don’t even try to tease their revealing quality with a semi-translucent fabric. They’re aggressively revealing and equally confusing with no good explanation as to why. Retailer Topshop doesn’t have a very good reason for agreeing to sell the controversial designs either. Aside from their out of the ordinary features and potential to create a social media maelstrom, these pants really don’t have much going for them.
What do you do with see-through jeans, anyway? Experts have suggested taking them to a costume party or wearing them as a statement piece at summer festivals. Nice as those suggestions are, wouldn’t the best use for plastic pants be as a second layer on a wet day, like a raincoat for your legs? Any other option is basically just half-assed shorts. If you’re going to go to the trouble to shave your legs, you might as well show them off and let them bask in the sun. Besides, with see-through jeans, everyone is going to see your undies. Is that really what you want?
$425. That’s the price tag on Nordstrom’s latest designer jeans. If that doesn’t seem like a hefty price tag, listen to this. These jeans are caked in faux dirt and mud. You’re literally paying for dirty clothes you could mess up yourself with a couple romps in mud after a rainy day. This is where shredded jeans have brought us. In 2017, it’s no longer good enough to roll in the yard to break in those workman jeans. Fashion brands have to do the work for you so your mud strains are aesthetically placed and appropriately permanent.
There’s a satirical coating to these muddy jeans that could only come from a tech-saturated culture. Sadly, manufacturers missed the irony. They’re a genuine attempt by fashion designers to help yuppies and hipsters regain the masculine ideal of hard work. Ina way, it’s a lecture on how much we as a culture prefer simulated experiences. More and more, people want to reap the results of an experience without having to go through the actual events in a traditional sense. Exactly like these controversial jeans, industries across the board are feeling the pressure and answering with products give us the ending of a story so we can skip the beginning and the middle. It’s a tricky game, but if this design is any proof, it seems to be working.
You probably never expected to see such controversial jeans hit the market. As much as the fashion industry loves drama, there seem to be deeper messages behind these unconventional trousers. In many ways, they’re more interesting philosophically than they would be to wear.
— Timothy Vest