Why I can’t buy jeans anymore.
Well, hello there! This here is the second post of 2024 and we’re here because I want to talk about Why I can’t buy jeans anymore.
The first one? The first one was not about why I can’t buy jeans anymore. It was about a bomb scare I created at the Greenwich Observatory in England in 2018. That’s all old news now and they let me into the country again in 2022, which tale has not yet been told.
Anyway, we’re not here to waste time talking about things to come or sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground.
We’re here to talk about why I can’t buy jeans anymore. So listen up, settle down, get a drink, some snacks.
In reverse order, yes. You’re clever!
I’ve worn jeans since I was in college. I grew up, twelve and thirteen years younger than my older 2 (two) brothers. This led directly to that phenomenon found in large families with limited means.
It’s a hand me down, and there we go, my thoughts are broken… Hang on, I need to go away and play that song. Pity you can't be here. But if you do want to hear me singing and playing that song, click here and scroll on down the line.
Hand me downs. Why spend money on new clothes when the elder brother’s clothes are in fine condition? You’re in college now and no need for a uniform.
Off I went to college in Calcutta (Kolkata) in wool drainpipes, with a metal zipper waist adjuster at the side. Very fashionable in New Delhi in the early 1960s, not quite fashionable in the late 1970s.
All around me, the boys and girls were dressed in those large flared trousers. Some an astronomical 26 inches at the bottom. Did I type 26 inches? Sorry, I meant 36 inches. My trousers were 11 inch at the shoe. If you’re thinking of Cliff Richard and the Shadows, you’re there. In 1978.
In later years, having grown to man’s estate, I have decided that I was actually fashion forward.
For what did I see in the early 2000s? You got it! Skinny jeans!
The college years
But let’s go back a bit to my university days, those days of yore, when I was starry eyed, drainpipe clad, heavily mustachioed and sporting hand me downs.
I had a wardrobe that consisted of 1 pair of GAP jeans, 1 pair of flares, handed down from my second brother, and not much else, in the legwear department. Shirts were easier, and just as eclectic, ranging from puffy sleeve crepe shirts (a present from the girlie of my dreams), acrylic, “disco” shirts from the US and cotton checks where the checks were large blue and red. When I tried to button up the white crepe shirt with the puffy sleeves, I discovered they were on the wrong side. I have now, after careful examination, thorough research and deep rumination lasting thirty years, concluded that I was wearing a woman's blouse.
For shoes, I had those brown suede shoes, as worn on the Coconut Oil Date. In my second year, I finally started getting paid for the honour, and, possibly, the privilege of being bored out of my skull as an audit clerk, so was able to afford a pair of highwaisted jeans made of some sort of cotton material as seen below.
Note: Flares narrower than convention of the time, after considerabel argument with tailor. Also see, the famous brown suede shoes.
I also, true fact, smoked a pipe, not curved like Sherlock's but a straight one. Very useful thing....
I also had a seemingly endless supply of cigarettes, due to circumstances beyond my control. I suspect this was a leading cause of my popularity in college.
There’s no question about it, I was a standout performer, or stood out, which is almost the same thing. I was helped by being incredibly handsome, mildly athletic, excruciatingly slim and utterly charming. Later in life, I added modesty to my repetoire of skills.
See handsome me, here in, possibly, third year of university.
Once upon a time, I used to work in "downtown Toronto". Everyday, as I got off the train and joined the throngs of eager professionals rushing into work, I'd see the uniforms.
Men, especially the younger ones, in dark blue suit, tan shoes. Hair slicked, trimmed beard. The jacket a size and a half small, so the armholes rode all the way up to the underarm joint, the pants stopped above the ankle, showing off, either printed socks, with balloons or cartoon characters, or in seasonal motifs, (pumpkins and cute spooky ghosts in autumn, santa and elves in winter) or no-show socks. Possibly, there were no socks at all, just a classy display of Victorian ankle, in the 6 weeks of summer we get here in the Tundra.
Women, I didn't really look at the women. I think they wore dark suits, either pants or skirts.
Everyone carried that ubiquitous and universal accessory : a cup of Starbucks coffee. (Remind me to tell you how I know that word - ubiquitious). It is my considered opinion that the Starbucks coffee didn't actually contain coffee, or if it did, was not drunk. I think a thorough examination of this may require a detailed thesis of its own.
(As an aside, Starbucks coffee, is overpriced and junk. Their beans will clog up any coffee machine you buy for your home.)
And then there was the old man, clean shaven without a hint of a beard, in a loose fit (regular cut) shirt, actually sometimes sporting button-down collar shirts! I wore no jacket, in summer, a lemon green/yellow polyester filled jacket, or a bright red down jacket with a hoodie. If it was a very balmy day, I'd switch the red down jacket to a thicker black down jacket. My pants were basic cotton slacks, or jeans. Before I lost two inches at the waist, I also had some cotton/polyester pants.
Quite out of sync with the upwardly mobile with their mobiles active, laptop messenger bag slung over one shoulder.
Interestingly, one of my bosses, seeing me shrug into my lime green jacket, shook his head and said, (I quote verbatim), "Only you would dare to wear that to work."
This is eerily similar to the comment another boss made when I was stating, with some passion, that you could not set arbitrarily timelines for completion of tasks in a project because of the degree of difficulty - see gymnastics or diving - the Olympics were on at that time. She said, "Only you could come up with something like that, everyone else has just accepted it without comment." (Remind me to tell of this lesson in project management...)
Clearly, I was out of sync.
"Only you" - heard that many times. Only me. Ah, yes.
But hark! What conclusions can we come to? What can we deduce?
'tis the cause, 'tis the cause.
It changes every year, apparently. There are Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter Fashion Collections. Big budget shows are produced and young men and women walk down amongst a collection of avid photographers, celebrities, hanger ons, wannabes to show off the latest abomination in clothing. Oh, sorry! Just for a minute there, I was distracted by a text message and the Peeved Punjabi finished off that last sentence.
Fashion is an industry. And industry run by executives whose aim is to extract every possible dollar they can from the hypnotized and huddled masses, reminiscent of the sausage factory in that Pink Floyd video, marching in step, eyes glazed, sporting all the icons deemed fashionable.
This need to be profitable is the reason for those shows. They build up a designer, giving him or her a fancy logo, set up the circus around it, get a celebrity or two to wear it for some gala, red carpet hoopla and then get the magazines (probably owned by them) and podcasters (probably paid by them) to gush, gush, gush breathlessly over the horrendous wicker work blouse, the aluminum frame skirt and the stupid hat made of tissue paper.
And then one day, Steve the Executive had a brainwave. (Hold on to Steve the Executive, there may be a series there).
Steve said, "Isn't there a way to reduce the amount of raw material we use to make our clothes?"
Actually, I don't believe Steve the Executive is that clever. He probably just said "Can we reduce costs somehow?"
And, barely had he said that, when the Boys In Blue set frantically work. Barely twelve weeks of long days and multiple dead Powerpoint decks later, they presented the Grand Plan.
Reduce raw material costs, while improving per unit net revenue.
Make sizes smaller. Cut sleeves shorter and higher up the armpit. Raise pant hems inch and a half. Cut zipper lengths by 0.87525 inches - which leads directly to this.
And there you have it. The reason for tighter clothes is the need to reduce raw material costs.
Not your comfort, practicality or usability; Cost reduction for the fashion house. (I guess the low necklines for women also followed the same product guidelines).
Spandex was originally created to meet the demand for women's girdles. As the girdle market died, Steve the Executive found ways to exploit the investments made in this product. Soon, athletic clothing became synonymous with spandex. It allowed athletes to be streamlined, offered compression and expandability and was "moisture wicking", so clothing didn't stick to the athletes as they sweated.
But now this horrible thing has taken over the markets. It's included in everything.
Why is Elastane so ubiquitious?
The reason this thing is in everything is because it is synthetic. Which means it can be made in a factory, by machines with the minimum of manual or womanual labour. This feeds directly into Steve the Executive's reason for living.
Profit, if you haven't figured it out, is what Steve the Executive cares about. He doesn't care about the consumer, or user, except as a moronic and easily manipulated individual.
Even non-athletic apparel like suits, shirts, pants now contain spandex, elastane or whateverthefuckyouwannacallit. By 2010, it seems 80% of clothing in the USA contained The Abominable Plastic.
And now we have jeans. And leggings. And the vile combination of the two, jeans/leggings called jeggings! A huggin’ the hips, a clampin’ the thighs, a squeezin’ the calfs. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!
And if my cursory research on the subject of elastane has shown me anything, it is that elastane is no bio-degradeable material and is terrible for the environment. So those who wear this and go out, with your hardly recyclable Starbucks cup to protest climate change and demanding environmental protection, you may want to look at what you're wearing. Also, note that, while Steve the Executive sends out periodic emails about social responsibility and environmental protection iniatives the corporation is doing great at, he doesn't know (or care) about the effect of elastane.
There is NO, repeat NO, reason for jeans to contain elastane. There is no reason for suits, slacks worn for non-athletic purposes to contain elastane.
Yes, Yes, I know people talk about comfort. Athleisure is a word now.
I got news for you. Sitting in front of a computer, playing games or producing iteration of Powerpoint decks that suck and which do absolitely nothing to help Steve the Executive make up his mind and actually make a decision in less than eighteen (18) months is not an athletic activity! Nor is sitting in a "sports bar" with loud music and loud patrons and a multiple TV screens showing some sports show a leisure activity. (Especially, when the sports show is "celebrity sports personalities" talking about sports when no sporting activity is actually shown.)
Why the hell do we pay so much attention to what the fashion moguls throw at us at outrageous prices?
Because: we are tuned to conformity. The tribal instinct to blend in, to be "with it" and, oddly enough, to "stand out".
This last has never failed to confuse me.
You want to stand out, so you conform? How does that work? You promply buy the book the boss's boss mentioned in a meeting as being a spectacular exposition of something or other. Then you quote from it at strategic moments. You don't consider how to apply those lessons into work, and when Mike the Executive "moves on" and is replaced by Steve the Executive, who discounts that book and, instead, talks about some other book, you run off to Amazon to buy it instanter.
I am totally comfortable with who I am as a person. There are plenty of areas where I am happy to spend my time and my hard-earned money. And it ain't gonna be dressing for success, whatever that means.
In another meeting somewhere, the discussion turned to why I wasn't agreeing to follow along some diktat or the other. One of the executives commented "maybe he's independently wealthy", and thus didn't need to kowtow.
I won't arbitrarily kow tow without understanding the reasoning. It's my fatal flaw. I need to know the "why".
And I ain't buyin' no elastane ridden jeans nohow, nowhere.
And, I don't shop at the GAP anymore, for reasons explained here.
I do like to wear colourful socks, as explained here.
NOTES and References:
I'm not the only person frustrated with the "stretch" nonsense. If you go to Google and search for "non-stretch jeans", you will see a plethora (that's another word I know the meaning of) of pleading seekers seeking non-stretch clothes. Also, check out this from George Hahn.
To learm more about Elastane, one source could be this from ISPO.
Or search. Learn.
Do your own research, as seems to be the norm, because Steve the Executive ain't gonna be honest with you.
Probably, because he doesn't have the capacity or the ability.