I ran across this photo spread in Outside Magazine today: Winter's Best Jeans
I've long been a fan of regular Levi's 501 jeans, but nowadays they cost in excess of $40. Still, that's a bargain compared to the $80 to $200 for the denims pictured in this article, and I've been planning to shop for a new pair... for traumatic reasons which I may detail in a separate post.
A few days ago I spent a couple of hours browsing in Wal-Mart while waiting to have an oil change done on the car. Yeah, I know, "real men" change their own oil. But I didn't want to risk staining my "pre-weathered" two-hundred dollar Levi's Capital E Eco Hesher Regular Straight Leg Jeans, seeing as how they already look ratty enough straight off the shelf.
I'm kidding. I can't afford two-hundred dollar trousers. And if I could, they'd better be something so sharp they'd put James Bond to shame in the swank department.
No, instead, I'm browsing around Wal-Mart and as I wander through the menswear department I notice "Faded Glory" blue denim jeans for $9.95 a pair. There's another brand, "Rustlers," for $10.95 a pair. I paused to check them out. Hmmm... not all that different from Levis. I tried on a few sizes and styles.
Here's my take on those d@mned "relaxed fit" or "comfort cut" or whatever euphemism they use for "fat boy" pants. Or "phat boy" pants, I suppose, since they're so popular with gangstas and hoodlums and guys who like to wear baggy pants down around their knees to show off their Underoos. Which, if they were wearing Underoos, might be cool, but usually they're just wearing plain old boxer shorts. Whatever you call 'em, and no matter how bad-@ss you think they make you, or your @ss, look, those wide-bottoms (as opposed to bell bottoms) leave you looking like that guy whose picture used to be in the Guinness Book of World Records. You don't even have to click on the link, 'cuz you know the guy I mean. (However, the wonders of the internet have made accessible, to my utter amazement, actual moving picture footage of that Guinness Book guy! )
But I digress. My question is: what is the difference between the ten-dollar "Faded Glory" jeans or the eleven-dollar "Rustler" jeans at Wal-Mart and the coupla-hundred dollar jeans promoted in Outside Magazine? I mean, is there a ten- to twenty-fold difference in quality? In fit? In style?
I must admit, I had to pass on the less expensive "Faded Glory" brand, because all they had in stock were the Guinnes Book of Records guy style, and go with four pair of the pricier eleven-dollar "Rustlers" regular-cut jeans. I mean, four pairs of jeans for the price of one pair of Levi's 501s! Deal, huh?
I suppose buying eleven dollar jeans pretty much relegates me to the "trailer trash" heap for the remainder of my days, don't it?
Seriously, I want to know: is there a valid reason to buy two-hunnert dollar "overalls"? Are there people out there who can tell the difference? If there are, are they people to whom I should be concerned about making the right impression?
I mean, okay, I examined these clothes fairly closely. Even I noticed a few differences. The smoothness of the zipper on the cheap jeans doesn't quite measure up to that in Levi's 501s, for example. But, there's hardly thirty dollars worth of difference. Perhaps it's small-minded on my part, but I can't conceive of a zipper improvement that would warrant a one-hundred fifty dollar difference in price.
Maybe people pay the extra money because they want their clothes to look "worn out" without having to wear them out. If that makes sense. Which it doesn't. I wore my new cheap jeans the next couple of days when I went power-tripping around town with Trippy, including a hot, sweaty, dusty off-trail scrabble through the brush and cacti to reach an abandoned machine-gun emplacement on a ridge above the Makapu'u lighthouse trail. The knees and the backside held up, so the quality's there. The zipper didn't come undone. Actually, the red dirt brushed right off, so they still don't look "fashionably filthy." Maybe that's the problem with cheap jeans, they don't get grungy fast enough. I shoulda worn them when I oiled up my bicycle chain this afternoon.
I guess I truly am "trailer trash." Poor trailer trash, because even if somebody can clarify why I should be buying buck and a q denims, I can't really afford to do that. Not without dipping into my beer money, anyway.
I did buy some genuine Converse All-Stars recently. Forty-two bucks for sneakers. I don't know how "genuine" they really are, seeing as how they're made in Vietnam. That would be the country in which we lost the war previous to the one we're losing now. Where the Commies took over. In response to which we said, "okay, you win, so now, pretty please, may we move the production of the All American Chuck Taylor Converse All-Stars basketball shoes to your communist country?" Anyway, I don't yet have a good photo of myself wearing my new All-Stars, but guess who else liked Converse sneakers? Yup, the Guinness Book guy! He even left 'em untied, just like the cool kids today! That cat was "phat" before his time!