Home » History in Fashion: Ripped Jeans

History in Fashion: Ripped Jeans

Ripped jeans, as many of us know, was usually a result of over-wearing. Prior to the 1970’s, ripped jeans was mainly associated with the less fortunate or people of the working class who simply could not afford to part with their denim. But looking back through history, this edgy trend was even around in the Renaissance era.

I know what you are thinking, “What do the Renaissance and youth-punk culture have in common?

Actually, more than you think!

During the Renaissance years, a flourishing fashion habit shocked society. This extremely scandalous trend, consisted in cutting a garment, in order to pull the fabric from the undergarment through, to form puffs. This practice was called slashing and puffing.

The vertical, horizontal or diagonal slits in the fabric of the garment were considered as an insult, not only because the expensive fabric was irremediably damaged, but also because this trend was a showcase of the aristocratic wealth.

Slashing and puffing was the symbol of true luxury. Even the government during this time applied sumptuary laws, to restrict the use of slashing and puffing.

And though the concept behind these practices are very different from today, the final intent of both are similar. Both ripped jeans and slashing/puffing want to rebel against the common taste of society’s fashion rules, in order to gain attention and express a sense of individuality.

Today’s beloved torn jean look started in the 1970’s and carried on throughout the 1980’s. It was during this time period that people made the transition from distressing their denim on their own, to purchasing them in stores. Designers took notice of the subcultures around them and payed close attention to what the younger generations were wearing. Today, this would translate to street fashion. In addition to designing jeans with rips and holes, jeans became available in new washes, including bleached and acid washed. Ripped jeans continued to gain popularity in the 90’s, while rock music continued to explore newer styles, as well.

Musicians, such as the late Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, set a fashion trend that influenced the masses in the early 1990’s. This trend weakened in the late 90’s but the revival is alive and well today. Today, rebellion is officially up for sale.

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