Distressed fashion: the Adidas trainers that come pre-muddied – The Guardian (blog)
Recently, I was out with my newborn son when I lifted him off my lap and looked down. With a pang of horror I hadn’t felt since that dream where I was running around in my pyjamas in secondary school, I realised that his nappy had leaked on to my black skinny jeans. I tried to hide the bright yellow mess under a T-shirt and a weak smile before limping home. Nothing will halt a cool indie-rock pose more than infant faeces,, right?
After three washes I can just about look at the jeans (and myself) again, but though nappy leakage is a step too far, there is a new trend in clothing where the more evidence of real life on your clothes, the better. We’re not talking about distressed denim here, but a purposefully lived-in and, yes, stained look.
Take J Crew’s range of paint-splattered khakis and Diesel’s range of similarly splashed jeans. Most recently there have been Adidas’ 7X750 trainers, made in collaboration with artist Ryan Gander. They feature “handcrafted mud”, giving the impression that you have been mucking about at a festival, without ever having to buy a ticket.
What you miss out on when you buy pre-stained shoes is the rite of passage of scuffing your newly bought wares. I remember that when I got my first pair of Converse as a teenager – shiny purple high-tops – I was immediately urged to “scuff them up” by a friend. I needed to show these were not just rookie shoes – these were real men’s shoes with real grownup experiences behind them (did I mention that they were bright purple?).
Items like the Adidas 7X750 trainers take this a step further, bringing with them a prefabricated history. This isn’t just about someone wearing a vintage item from the 50s and imagining they’re Don Draper. It’s about the wearer acting out the role of someone who has perhaps gone to an art installation/illegal rave/house party and left with mud, paint stains or cigarette burns on their shoes – and then continued wearing them.
There’s a history to this trend. In the late 90s, Helmut Lang and Zoltar the Magnificent brought out paint-splattered jeans and T-shirts strewn with cigarette burns, respectively. To all appearances, the wearer’s life was displayed on their clothes for all to see, but no – the clothes are new, and the “life” is fake. In this way, these garments are filled with the playful spirit of modern art and it’s no surprise that artists such as Gander and provocateurs such as Zoltar designer Dan Macmillan are involved. Distressed clothes offer a version of reality, bent into an unreality in a parallel universe.