The pesky government will keep banging on about austerity Britain and insisting that we all tighten our proverbials to mitigate for the doings of a load of utter bankers. Older readers will know that it’s not the first time we’ve been herded down this alley and, depending how wisely you use your vote, we may be beaten with the shitty end of the deficit stick for a while yet. Clearly some citizens are experiencing excruciatingly straitened times, and budget fashion solutions such as vintage, upcycled and pre-loved chic (including swishing) have never been more on trend.
In the Ben Stiller comedy Zoolander, fashion designer Mugatu launches a collection called Derelicte – a parody of a real clothing range created by John Galliano. The story goes that Galliano’s stylist was tasked with turning socks into fingerless gloves by putting them in a hot oven, letting them catch on fire, and then chewing holes in them with his teeth. But, you’ll be pleased to know, there’s no need to go to such extreme lengths to create austerity-chic garments.
Back in the day I had one pair of jeans that I wore to destruction. But if you don’t have the commitment to erode your trousers through years of chafing, you can get them off the peg – but they could potentially be one of your more expensive wardrobe staples. I went for a shufty round H&M and, for every pair of intact bargain-basement denims there were some outrageously-priced shredded ones. And, ironically, the rips and tears had been identically positioned, making each pair less than unique. This reminded me of the first time I went into alternative outfitters Bondage in General and goggled at the expensive identikit ripped tees, way beyond the budget of this embryonic punk.
So, just like I did back then and using the DIY ethos of punk, I decided to take matters into my own hands. With a pair of cheap jeans from the back of my wardrobe, a scalpel, sandpaper, scissors and chalk – plus an old magazine to cut against – I created my own pair of this season’s lacerated skinnies.
Wearing the jeans, I used chalk to mark where I wanted the rips to be above and below my knees. Then, having removed the trousers in the interests of health and safety, I set-to with a scalpel and tweezers; first slicing then pulling out the threads. I also attacked the seams and creases with a cheese grater and rubbed them with coarse sandpaper. Once the bulk of the distressing was complete, I put my madeover jeans into the washing machine and waited impatiently for them to dry.
I’m pretty pleased with the results; a pair of unique gashed-up trousers for a budget price. And, with the extra investment of a nylon tattoo sleeve from Poundland (£1), I can have a bit of (temporary) gangsta stylee poking through my ripped knee. Innit.
Photographed on location at the beautiful Culver Down, Isle of Wight.