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Western Wear Without The Douche: Jeans

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Jeans are so central to the image of the West that in many countries they’re called “cowboy pants.” So why is everyone wearing Bon Jovi jeans?

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Nothin’ says “Livin’ On A Prayer” like sewing a cross on your butt.

The sort of super-processed, ultra-low rise, heavily decorated and/or distressed jeans that continually flood the market are a bad investment for two reasons. (Three if you count looking like you washed up on the Jersey Shore). First, the processes that break in the jeans and add all the worn in parts and stitched up parts and artificially frayed parts are incredibly destructive to the fabric. Like I’ve said before, it’s like paying full price for a new car and having the dealer put 20,000 miles and a twenty dents in it for looks. I used to buy pre-washed, distressed jeans from one of the major denim brands and I went through the things like tissue paper. Belt loops and pockets ripped off with the slightest tug, knees blew out if you squatted deep enough. Why? Because the jeans were already mostly destroyed by the time I bought them. Because it’s supposed to look cool. Or, cool for this year. Next year there’s gonna be a new version of cool. But hey, your jeans might not last that long.

The second reason why these sorts of jeans are a bad investment is that they go through a ton of unnecessary processes to make them look that way. They’re sanded and bleached. Creased and beaten. Washed and washed and washed with fresh water. It adds a lot of basically unnecessary and wasteful steps to the process. Let me put it this way: I’ve lived my whole life in a perennially drought stricken part of the country. We’d kill for some extra water for our stock and crops. Why then is it a good idea to lace water with chemicals and abrasives to make brand new jeans look old? It’s not.

The answer to this is to buy jeans that either raw (untreated and unwashed from the factory) or as close to raw as possible. Besides pretending like you saved a bunch of fresh water, there’s another fringe benefit to this: your jeans will age and wear in a more interesting, unique way than pre-distressed jeans.  What’s more, these jeans will have a wear pattern unique to you and your life.

Raw denim can be expensive, especially if you get into selvage (jeans with a finished edge). But they don’t have to be. You can find plenty of jeans in either raw or near raw condition at a price equal to or lower than the stonewashed jeans you’ve been buying. They won’t go out of style on you they’ll last a lot longer (the last two pairs of raw denim jeans I bought I wore almost daily for a calendar year and they’re still going strong). By buying jeans that won’t become suddenly unfashionable or fall apart, you’re saving yourself time and money. See, you keep earning yourself more time for cold beverages.


About Seth

Bury my heart in West Texas.

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