Have you ever struggled with nailing the look of your jeans? Ever fall down the stairs for hours just to get that perfect rip? Don’t worry – In this day and age, you can buy jeans which come conveniently pre-ripped. And this is one of the most ridiculous things in the world.
In textile factories, workers load brand-new jeans and pumice rocks into giant rotary drums, and spin them around and around – packing decades of wear and tear into minutes. Special engineers line up with giant sandblasters and shoot high-pressure sand at jeans strung up on a conveyer line. In one plant in Turkey, more than 5,000 textile sandblasters have been diagnosed with silicosis, and 46 workers have died from the disease. This is an entire industry built to destroy.
Ok, but to really understand why this is so ridiculous, let’s add some history. Although jeans have been around since the 1700s, they really became Americana during the Gold Rush – miners wanted pants that didn’t rip, and everyone else wanted to be as cool as the miners. Levi Strauss and Co were originally looking to make tough work pants – they started with brown cotton duck fabric, but then found that denim, literally riveted together, was cheaper and tougher. The generation of the 50s seized jeans as a mark of youthful rebellion – but by the 70s, hipster jeans had turned into mainstream mom jeans. During the 70s, the cultural punk movement led to legions of young folks ripping their jeans as a way to protest rampant consumerism and large corporations. Forgetting, of course, the whole point of jeans is that they’re hard to rip. Big fashion responded by simply selling ripped jeans – for the lazy activist. By the 90s, people were buying ripped jeans to emulate the people of the 70s, without understanding the whole point of ripping jeans.
And, in today’s world, as a miracle of Westernization, our generation has successfully convinced the rest of the world to cut holes through otherwise serviceable fabric. That’s just funny.