As addressed in the |placeholder| classic post Mustache Woes, I’ve been trying to adjust my wardrobe fairly drastically in the past few months. So far, the lion’s share of it has been education on the subject; I may not have all the money in the world right now, but reading blogs like Put This On and Nerd Boyfriend don’t cost a thing (much like my love). Inspired by Put This On‘s first video episode, I’ve made a small investment in a pair of raw denim jeans.
The Levi’s store seemed to have more employees than customers, and despite saying that I was happy to browse, and being told that I could have a look around, and if I had any questions just ask, I couldn’t seem to shake one peppy salesperson. (if I worked there I would definitely refer to myself as a Leviathan) Upon hearing the description of what I was looking for, she pointed me towards some boring jeans, pre-distressed, over-finished. Disinterested, I continued to wander the store while being offered tidbits of superfluous denimformation whenever my eyes lingered on a pair of jeans for too long. Eventually I spotted my quarry, the shrink-to-fit 501’s. “Oh,” she offered, dismissively, “those are the shrink-to-fits. There’s a whole… process with those.” Despite her warning, (because of it?) this “process” sounded like just the thing I was looking for.
Getting home with my new garment in hand, I excitedly consulted the internet for advice on how to properly imprint myself on my new pants. The process has proven to be a tad arduous; definitely more work than any other piece of clothing in my recent past, but I feel as though it’s going to be worth it. Provided they live up to the hype, I can see a that having a pair of jeans that one breaks in over months, whose patina and collection of scuffs and holes develop over years, as feeling much more significant than a pair of twenty-dollar jeans from Old Navy that may last six months and before being replaced. Imbuing an article with clothing with an animus almost like that of a companion seems silly, but there’s something very nostalgic and appealing to it.
It’s difficult for me to think about this without conjuring browned-around-the-edges kodachrome mental image of a weathered man, in his late forties, somewhere in a field, somewhen in the Fifties. He is stripping the branches from a sapling with a simple folding knife. He was given the knife by his father when he was a boy, and the oak handle has been polished walnut dark and smooth with use. The spine of the blade may be dinged and scratched, but the grind and the edge have been kept clean and straight with whetstone and oil: it cuts just as sure as it did when he was young. The handle has gently formed to his hand, converse to the callus on his hand from the rivet that holds the blade in place.
The sad fact is that I rightly describe this mindset as nostalgic. It’s definitely not extinct, but it is undoubtedly endangered by consumerism and the frantic pace of technological growth. Cell phones, digital cameras, PMPs and their ilk are especially to blame. I’m going to pass on any potential issues of planned obsolescence (fiendish as they may be), and simply address fashion as a driving force for constantly wanting the newest and the best. The very thought of passing your iPod down to your child seems preposterous; something which might be done out of poverty, definitely not out of tradition. Nobody’s going to hide their Blackberry in their ass for two years in a Viet Cong internment camp.
My jeans made me trip and fall today. I didn’t quite get my foot up enough while stepping up a high curb into a parking lot and my attempted recovery was prevented by the ridiculously stiff, raw denim. Dusting the gravel off my scraped palms, I looked down and discovered that, considering a few bruises and some embarrassment, my pants had fared much better than I had. Scuffs from falls are one thing, but as I’m expecting these to stretch and fade according to my life, to pick up small stains from spilled wine at parties and spilled blood on my bike or skateboard, to darken and fray around the cuffs from leather conditioner and shoe polish, to eventually soften and tear in the knees, or where loose coins and keys have slowly eroded holes through the pockets… I’m just going to say we’re off to a rough start but I think we’ll get along just fine, in time.