The Long View: Will new ‘wash-less’ denim fade with public apathy?

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Rather than reviewing the past year with a column of thoughtful reflection, The Long View asks the perplexing question, “what the heck did they mean by that?"

In 2014, clothing manufacturers and style icons made a startling statement: we should not be washing our blue jeans.

Rather than reviewing the past year with a column of thoughtful reflection, The Long View asks the perplexing question, “what the heck did they mean by that?"

In 2014, clothing manufacturers and style icons made a startling statement: we should not be washing our blue jeans.

Evidently, laundering your jeans damages fibers and diminishes the indigo dye in your denim.What is more, washing and drying accentuates the patterns your body makes in your dungarees – the molded-folded look around your hips, the outlines where the phone or wallet goes in your pockets, the pattern behind your knees, etc.

And these distinctive patterns might be best avoided; the FBI has used the fade marks in jeans to identify crime suspects.

Aficionados of blue jeans swear that said pants are best kept away from water and detergent. They recommend turning your jeans inside out and hang them outside on a breezy day, or throwing them in the freezer overnight.  Doing so, they assure us, will remove any offensive smell.

If you must, stain removal is best accomplished using minimal water and mild soap to treat the blot blemishing your blue behind (or front).

I, for one, do not like the idea of my freezer smelling like pants I have worn for months.  I guess I could hang them on the line outside, but there is always the risk of the neighbors calling the local water treatment plant about the stench enveloping our subdivision.

An enterprising Australian jeans wearer has invented an antibacterial spray that promise to neutralize any odor built up in un-laundered denim.  The spray also pledges to “refresh and revitalize” the fabric; after what they've been through, I suppose my pants deserve that sort of spray bottle vacation.

But I submit these experts are talking about blue jeans that cost more than dinner for two in a decent restaurant – the kind of jeans I don't buy.  Conversely, the jeans these manufacturers and style mavens refer to are not the kind that come into contact with dirt, mud, grass, grease, schmutz, gra-doo, or crud.

Maybe they are worn in a high-rise office suite or the leather seats of the luxury vehicle freshly retrieved by a well tipped valet, or maybe at the artist’s gallery exhibition, opening of the museum's new wing, or sports arena corporate suite.

But they certainly aren't blue jeans worn to dig out that overgrown shrub in the corner of the yard, or to tie up the muffler underneath the car, or to turn the compost bin, spread the mulch, and haul the garbage to the curb for collection.  In short, the jeans that shouldn’t be washed are not the kind of jeans that do any of the dirty work.

The experts may know a lot more than I about fabric and apparel, but they understand precious little about clothes.  Before advocating the non-washing of blue jeans, they should walk a mile in my pants, or at least get close enough to smell them.

 

Pat Grimes, a former South Bay resident, writes from Ypsilanti, Mich. He can be reached at pgwriter@inbox.com