There is no doubt that there are certain times of the year when we feel slightly distressed. Yet, oddly enough, that is the buzzword that has captured the fashion world this season. Distressed clothing – ragged, worn-out with raw hems and gaping holes – is the latest trend that has put what may have typically been considered clothing one step closer to the trash bin, onto runways, and into the trash bin closets next to high fashion garments.
What Distressed Clothing Says
It’s a look, a vibe that comes from the street. Imagine what you would look like following a dust-up with a gang. Your clothing will be torn, ripped, scuffed, and damaged. The messy look of confusion has fashion designers clamoring to deconstruct their fashions to meet the new, rough, and ready-to-rumble look of distressed clothing.
It has spread so rampantly through the industry that a Fashion Week ‘22 presentation saw well-known brands unveil their contributions to the street look of tattered and torn leggings, shirts, jackets, and accessories. It’s almost a mixture of disturbing urban influence forced upon high fashion sensibility. The most exciting thing is that it works.
Fashion Has Recently Become “Unraveled”
An exhibit at the Museum at FIT opened recently. The title: is “Unraveled,” and it features several pieces of clothing from the well-known brand Comme des Garcons. One item, a lace sweater, summed up the concept of distressed clothing with a single glance.
The hand-knit sweater features intentional holes. The piece dates back to the 1980s with imitation and replication many times. Unraveled features several garments that had alterations, unfinished, or otherwise flawed. It highlights historical pieces with modifications in one way or another, as that was the standard practice.
For example, there is an 18th-century corset on display. It had to be made more prominent for the wearer, so they made mismatched fabric panels. The hidden changes under layers of clothing, so it didn’t matter that the fabric used in the alteration did not match the original. However, having something like this on display demonstrates that sometimes clothing gets changed over its lifetime but remains fashionable.
Distressed clothing takes that idea further by creating a new look from existing clothing with alterations. The main difference is that those alterations – the tears and wear – are not hidden as they are not considered flaws. Instead, they have become essential elements of the overall look of the garment.
The Fashion Week ‘22 Show Was Distressed – At Times
The worn-out, battered, and beaten look of distressed clothing made waves at the FW22 event. Brand names jumping on the bandwagon included Diesel, MM6 Maison Margiela, Acne Studios, and many more. To add to the look, VTMNTS even had models wearing tattered clothing who all looked as if they had just stepped onto the stage from a back alley brawl. It put an interesting spin on the trend and made black eyes, bruises, and assorted other abrasions seem more fitting with the fashion than out of place.
What Other Brands Are Doing To Keep Up
The list of brands adding rips and tears to their line reads like a who’s who. Miu Miu chose to go back to the concept used with the 18th-century corset on display at “Unraveled” by sharing new collections that featured refined wearables without apparent signs of deconstruction. The secret in those fashions was where raw hems and ragged cut-outs existed underneath them. Botter released patched-together shirts and clutch bags. The bags show modest street videos with grips that look like brass knuckles.
Acne took distressed fashion to a level that echoes the sights from “Unraveled.” First, they entered FW22 with torn knitwear and denim layers so tattered that you’d think someone was getting beaten while wearing them. Then, they expanded on that theme with ribbed scarves, sweaters, and gloves.
Plus, some sock shoes were full of holes and highlighted loose threads. Finally, Diesel went a slightly different direction – a variation on a theme, if you will – with leather shirts with asymmetrical hems, ragged denim, and peeling holes in sweatpants. All that was missing were bruises and cuts on the models.
Finally, Balenciaga introduced distressed clothing. But at FW22, the brands did an about-face with style by incorporating new, fresh techniques into a fashion that looks better worn than new. Those cutting-edge techniques include tape-laden logos and repeat emphasis on distressed finishes.
Frayed hems topped washed-out jeans and caps with hoodies showing tape details, paint splotches, and seams that barely held on. The distressed details, from frays to extreme wear and tear, made the garments look as if they had just survived a scrap that made you feel bad for the winner.
Why We Like The Distressed Look
One word comes to mind – comfort. Remember years ago when you bought a new pair of jeans or a new jean jacket and the work you would put into washing them over and over to break them in? Then fleece products like the ones found at Bella + Canvas started to fill your closet because they were comfortable and didn’t require so much work to get them there. Fashion designers have combined the comfort of well-worn clothing with fashionable looks through distressing. It has become a look we like because they are already broken in and look tough.
The distressed look, as frantic and sloppy as it may appear at times, will be a fashion trend that won’t go away anytime soon. That’s because big-name designers have embraced it. You know you are dealing with something much bigger than a fad when that happens. Distressed garments are not a fad.
Trending, yes, but some trends stay with us forever and become timeless classics. The distressed look could do the same over time. How many old, worn-out pieces of clothing do you still hold onto in your wardrobe? That’s proof that there is a place for the distressed look.