The 50 Most Distressing Uses of Denim of All Time

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Levi Strauss would be shocked by your jeans. Strauss and partner Jacob Davis obtained their patent for copper riveted “waist overalls” in 1873, and, of course, birthed the blue jean. Once reserved for manual labor, jeans have since become universal. Suitable for most occasions, and worn by most people, denim’s gone global. And according to professors Daniel Miller and Sophie Woodward — chairs of the Global Denim Project, and editors of an anthology on Global Denim — “the majority of the world’s population” is wearing it right now. But with that much denim, it can’t all be pretty.

We have an abusive relationship with our indigo. Sometimes we can’t stop ourselves. We stone it and stud it, rip it and shred it, blast it with sand and douse it with acid, and expect it to stick around. We distress it and like it better that way. We shrink it and fade it, cut it off, and make it skinny or wide to suit our whims. And it keeps coming back for more.

It’s time to apologize. So say you’re sorry, starting with these 50 most memorable crimes against denim.

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