Denim trends come and go. Skinny, flared, cropped, Mom, boyfriend, and so on.
Me, I like to stick to my cropped ankle-grazers because they actually suit my body.
Can you really call them jeans? Gigi Hadid thinks so. Photo: Livio Valerio / IPA
Given most of us already own too many pairs of jeans, consider this a cautionary note against 1980s- and 1990s-style uber ripped denim.
In the past few months, rips in jeans have become totally extra. Go shopping and it’s nearly impossible to find a pair of jeans that still has its legs intact.
As Hadley Freeman wrote in The Guardian: “This is just one of the stranger truths about the ripped-jeans trend: the less jeans there are, the more the jeans cost.”
Recently, Katie Holmes and Jennifer Lopez have been spotted wearing jeans with holes so big, it’s a mystery how they hold themselves together at the seams.
Hip to be ripped … Chrissy Teigen. Photo: PA
Jeans by Australian label One Teaspoon with cut-outs from mid-thigh to mid-calf sold out after Gigi Hadid was snapped wearing them (I use the term “wearing” loosely).
And Kendall Jenner must have burnt some serious bills on a garment best described as shorts with string bits down the sides of her legs that formed cuffs at the ankles.
The media called them “invisible jeans”. I called them ridiculous.
Putting aside how they look (I have a major hole phobia, so I am probably not the best person to judge), overly ripped jeans are terribly bad for the environment.
Olivia Munn keeps her rips on the moderate side of obscene. Photo: PA
First, they don’t last as long as jeans without holes. And the holes are often placed in spots that are only going to rip even more.
Katherine Williams, of Melbourne-based denim brand Liberty Jeans says: “Even if you buy a pair of jeans that doesn’t have a huge hole it becomes a huge hole because of the way people live.”
Think of all those ripped jeans that are going into landfill after only a season of wear, and not several years – the way denim was designed to be worn.
In April, Topshop thought it had found a solution to our icy knee problem by making a pair of jeans with plastic panels over the rips. (Get the look and stay warm! You can kneel on the grass in them!)
Topshop previously released a pair of jeans with plastic windows in the knees. Photo: Supplied
Daily Life columnist and Wardrobe Crisis author and podcast host Clare Press has written extensively about the damage denim production does to the planet.
There are the toxic chemicals, poor labour conditions and the health issues that affect the workers. And that’s just for regular jeans.
Bring distressed denim into the equation and it’s bad on a whole other level.
“Is is not a bit sad that we pay top dollar for our brand, spanking new denims to look faded, distressed, and well-worn?” asks Press.
Press said fashion has lost the association of wear and tear with longevity, and instead replaced it with the instant gratification of “oldness” or a “vintage look” (sustainable fashion commentators will say there’s no such thing).
Most people don’t give much thought to how their jeans end up with those perfectly slashed knees and worn spots on the pockets.
Workers are forced to sandblast perfectly good denim and risk silicosis from the dust to give that “worn” look. And the water required to give a stone-washed result could quench the thirst of a small village.
But there is some good news – innovation means that lasers are replacing the deadly sandblasters and water-saving technology is making the process less environmentally degrading.
Still, there is nothing that can make a pair of slashed jeans last longer than a pair of unslashed jeans. That’s not being an environmentalist, a hippie or even a geek. It’s just the laws of physics.