Distressed Signals

There’s one school of thought that a man’s jeans should only ever be purchased selvedge, dark, tight, and perfect – and then naturally and authentically worn in over the years by their owner. Under this rule, pre-distressed denim is thought of as the worst in preposterous poser-y.

I personally never saw the need to be so fussy or fanatic about something as frivolous as fashion denim, although, for years and years I never would’ve considered buying pre-worn to the point of ripped jeans.

Or any piece splotched with paint.


But I’ve recently changed my tune. Last month, James at Secret Forts photographed a preview of next spring’s J. Crew men’s line and for me the focal point was this pair of paint-caked cut-offs. Whether I wait until spring to buy a pair directly from J. Crew or hit the art supply store early and self-splotch a pair of my own shorts, I’ll definitely be fashioning myself a look based on fakery, and some studly snots just can’t handle any of that. I’m not an acrylics-coated, studio arts major – I’m just (either) purposely ruining shorts or buying purposely ruined shorts to look the part.

The thrill of men’s fashion today seems to be in the mix of the white and blue collar looks – banker bowties with bricklayer work boots, and I think a paint-caked coat or pair of cut-offs plays really interestingly with a rich and refined button-up or blazer.


Probably more than any other trend, however, the pre-distressed piece needs to be taken on a case by case basis. When The Gap relaunched its denim line this fall, there were many fits, washes, and degrees of destruction, but something, no EVERYthing about these faded, razored, Authentic fit jeans seemed completely right.

I admit I’m a faker, building a look based primarily in the pretend, but I think for me, the faking needs to feel really, really real.

4 Responses to “Distressed Signals”

  1. damien Says:

    This is a interesting topic. I went shopping last week and was very tempted to by one the hot new overpriced pair of pre distressed, worn in khaki’s that’s flooded the market(I won’t name the brand but trust me, it’s a very hip brand). I was just about to pull the trigger when I realized I had a real worn in pair just like it from Banana Republic (not so hip), that I’ve own for like a million years.

    It obviously wouldn’t have been anything wrong with buying them but here lies the increasing dilemma with menswear right now. Menswear has been racing to play catch up with it’s authentic self.

    Thanks for bringing this issue to light. I wonder if other blogs will address issue. Thanks for letting me rant.

  2. Vadim K Says:

    Belonging to a first school of thought Im enjoying the luxury of not buying a single pair of denim for a couple of years now. Its time for a new pair though. Dark and rigid as cardboard. And Its totally fine to have paint splats all over if you really paint in them. But its just me. I would never wear a pilot jumpsuit unless Id be flying jets. Top Gun style.

  3. ffocuss Says:

    Buy em fresh and the rest is history!

  4. J. Crew Painted Short | A Treasury Of... Says:

    […] came as a quirky surprise to me but last fall, during their Men’s Spring 2010 preview party, J. Crew featured a pair of ragged, paint-ravaged shorts that completely tripped my trigger. For the past many months I’d visit their on-line shop […]