Back in the 1800s people broke in their jeans the honest way–tearing them on barbed wire fences while rustling cattle. Then one day a woman who worried about sending her kid out with “dirty dingy underwear” added rocks instead of softener to the wash. Thus, stone-washed jeans were born … or at any rate that’s how I imagine the idea was born. The only problem with this method of stone washing was that you had to hire people to pick pebbles out of the pockets.
Far-fetched, I know. But reality is no better. Nordstrom is sold out of their “Heavily distressed medium-blue denim jeans in a comfortable straight-leg fit embody rugged, Americana workwear that’s seen some hard-working action with a crackled, caked-on muddy coating that shows you’re not afraid to get down and dirty.” The price was $425.
Minimum wage in some of the U.S. is $7.25. To buy these jeans many hard-working Americans in muddy jobs would have had to work 7 ½ days.
So how are stone-washed jeans made today? As DuPont used to advertise, Better Living Through Chemistry–assuming better living is having old-looking jeans. Enzymes munch on cotton fibers and release indigo dye. As I recall from chemistry labs, enzymes can be developed to munch on any specific protein molecule you want. Think of the possibilities. We could finally rid the earth of black velvet art–or Baby Uh-Ohs.
What is a “Baby Uh-Oh”, you ask. In the 1980s or 90s the geniuses over at some toy company (Hasbro I think) “gave birth” to two dolls: Baby Eat ‘N Grow and Baby Uh-Oh who wet her diaper and developed diaper rash. I have this bizarre image of a salesman stuck in a traffic jam driving a car stuffed with these cuties–and maybe a few others, such as Baby Back Seat Driver and Baby Belcher.
That’s it. I just had these weird thoughts and I thought I’d share them with the world.