In this part of the world where I sustain myself, wearing frayed, ripped clothes is a social stigma–only the unfortunate ones wear them. Before stepping out, I thoroughly scan my dress from top to toe. I may have to discard it if a slight blemish is noticed.
But there has been a drastic change. Torn, ripped clothes are in fashion these days. Ripped jeans have become a rage. Ironically, the ripped jeans are costlier than the regular ones. The people who don this blemished dress walk straight, holding their heads high. Higher the brand, more is the confidence. I understand the manufacturers of this stuff are minting money. They claim that art, craft and lot of hard work goes into the making of the torn dress.
Two methods are primarily used to makes the holes: the laser technology and the hand ripping. Both are time consuming. If laser technology is used, a design is programmed into a software and a hole is burnt accordingly by targeting the laser at the denim. Manual ripping is far more intricate. A trained person conceives, creates and execute the rip and gives the finishing touch to a design which might take hours. No wonder, a Gucci pair of jeans or any other famous brand may cost half a lac or more. On the other hand, a locally made pair of ripped Indian jeans may cost you as little as Rs.750/-. I understand the manufacturers use the sandpaper to give it a frayed and tattered look. They leave no stone unturned to please the customers who like stonewash look. The jeans may be tumbled in washing machines filled with volcanic pumice stones. This process may up the price too.
There are people in my social circle who scoff at this ripped jeans mania and call it stupid. They call it foolish to pay exorbitant price for tattered clothes. On the other hand, the wearer of this stuff feels proud to share this fad with national and international film stars.
I’m not sure if each and every wearer of this “distressed” clothing knows its history. The ripped mania surfaced in the cultural Punk movement of 1970s. The “rips” were symbolic of rebellion. The “Punk” subculture is made of beliefs such as anti-authoritarianism, anti-corporatism, anti-consumerist. They believed in direct action and not “selling out”. They strongly believed in “a do-it-yourself” ethic. The Punks opposed the “corporate greed” too.
Whether the Punk culture still exits? It’s another story. I may revert to the subject.