I work on the 8th floor of a building where a lot of events go down -- fashion shows, corporate events, sample sales ... and most recently a Se7en Jeans blowout sale. For those of you who live in a cave, Se7en's (yeah that's right, they combined the word "Seven" and the number "7"), more formally known as 7 For All Mankind, are a brand of what one might call "designer jeans". They retail from about $150-$250 and promise to enrich your life by giving you the gift of style and luxury.
Anyway back to my building. People stood in line for hours to make it to the denim-filled fifth floor. As I bypassed the line to get to work ... as I rode the elevator with them on my way to and from lunch, and as I exited the building at the same time as them ... I felt my judgment get the better of me. And not that this is any kind of new feeling -- I'm overcome by judgment at least four times a day (and that's a modest guess) -- but this particular judgment had a more visceral, profound affect on me. I think I can pinpoint several reasons for this.
For three days straight I watched as hundreds of 18 to 20-somethings spent half of their days dedicated to the purchase of COOL (but wait, didn't Se7en's stop being popular in like 2003?! Whatever ... ). They chattered among themselves as the elevator ride brought them one step closer to fitting in amongst the mainstream, shimmying their booties into fabric that would make them feel better, sexier walking into a room, and they could sleep just a little bit easier knowing that they saved $40 on a piece of clothing that would now make their wardrobes a little bit more designer. Topics like this will forever bring me back to my theory of fashion vs. style. Anybody can buy fashion -- it's simply an understanding of what's vogue, what's in, what's current. It's a following-the-leader game that requires little skill. Style, however, is a personal reflection; a personal rendering of fashion. The idea of the designer jean in general is pretty ludicrous. It's tough to find the right denim for you -- buy what fits you right and makes you look hot. Period. Why complicate it by limiting yourself to particular brands deemed "designer" by Seventeen Magazine? I felt a mixture of sorry for these people, and also embarrassed that somebody might see me getting off the elevator with them and think we were all coming from the fifth floor together -- I'm not sure which unnerved me more.
Secondly I think my judgment came from a place of trauma -- namely, high school. I was brought back to the says when everybody wore Abercrombie and all I wanted to do was fit in ... desperately. One day my mom and I went to the store together and there was a pair of pants for $70 that I had to have. She looked at me sideways, cocked her eyebrow and said "sure, if you pay half". So I did. Because even though I was only a junior in high school and probably had $100 to my name, I had to have whatever it was that made the cool girls so effing cool. (In case you're wondering, the pants didn't make me any cooler. I still had wild curly hair, a big Jewish nose, and wore leopard print bellbottoms on the alternate days). So I guess the concept of fitting in and the lengths people will go to do so is a sore spot for me. Which again, brings me back to feeling sorry for these people and also embarrassed that somebody might think I'm one of them.
My last round of judgment came retroactively. When I saw these hundreds of people lined up in front of the building nonstop, day after day after day, hour after hour from 9 a.m. - 7 p.m., I thought to myself: damn, maybe in the last few years these jeans have gotten really ridiculously dope! So I came home and looked them up online.
Sell for $165, $178, $198 and $245 respectively.
It appears my judgment was not out of order. I could go into it here -- the cut, the wash, the price of the jeans -- but I think the photos speak for themselves.
Well where does that leave us? I suppose they either need to change their tag from "For All Mankind" to "For the Cool Kids in High School", or the rest of us need to become a bit more discerning. A label does not make the garment. It's one thing if you're into a really hot, top designer because you can't get enough of his/her designs, but it's quite another to want simply want something because of the name ... especially if said garment is heinous. I wish you luck in your quest for truth ... and style.