My father, and pretty much my entire family comes from a working class background. Diners. Luncheonettes. Pizzerias. Food trucks. Laundromats. Construction. Auto-mechanics - you name it.
There's good money, especially in selling sandwiches and coffee if you've got a prrime location (we're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars a year - no school necessary) but it's back-breaking work. You're up at 4am to catch the early rush and you're constantly watching your employees and making sure people aren't screwing you over or ruining your operation.
Which is a big reason why my father was always so insistent that my siblings and I studied and worked hard in school. I inherited a certain amount of laziness from my father (he's a man who would coast on his success and get too comfortable after putting some money away) and it's a thing I'm working to kill in myself each and every day. I do take pride in the fact that I, however, come from a working class background and have nothing but love for the grind and hustle much of my family endure to make better lives for them and their kids. I'm sure a lot of other Americans feel the same way.
Which is why people are mortified by the $425 jeans caked in fake mud currently on sale at Nordstrom.
That's right, for the low, low price of only four hundred and twenty five friggin' dollars, you can have jeans coated in artificial mud so you can look like you wear dirty clothes.
Twitter obviously wasn't having any of it.
One of the biggest critics of the jeans was Mike Rowe, host of the popular series Dirty Jobs. He's learned a thing or two about working class America in his travels.
He vented about the product's ludicrousness and the social commentary it makes on blue collar America.
This morning, for your consideration, I offer further proof that our country’s war on work continues to rage in all corners of polite society. Behold the latest assault from Nordstrom’s. The “Barracuda Straight Leg Jeans.” http://bit.ly/2oYpyBn
Finally - a pair of jeans that look like they have been worn by someone with a dirty job…made for people who don't. And you can have your very own pair for just $425.00.
Here’s the official description, from their website.
“These heavily distressed medium-blue denim jeans 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.”
On the positive side, Nordstrom’s isn’t purging their shelves of work-related imagery, like the owners of Monopoly did when they replaced the wheelbarrow with a rubber ducky. They seem to value icons work. What they don’t value - obviously - is authenticity.
I understand the appeal of buying broken-in jeans. I mean really, who has time these days to wait for a pair of jeans to naturally fade? I also understand the different cuts. Might as well get something that fits and feels comfortable. But they lost me years ago with their various stages of “distress.” The stone wash and the acid wash the rinsed wash and the bleached wash... And they really lost me when they started tearing holes in them on purpose.
I saw a pair of jeans at Macy’s the other day that looked like they’d been bathed in boric acid, hung up and shot multiple times with a twelve-gauge, and then pounded on a rock down by the river. They too, were on sale, for $249.00.
But forget the jeans themselves for a moment, and their price, and look again at the actual description. “Rugged Americana” is now synonymous with a “caked-on, muddy coating.” Not real mud. Fake mud. Something to foster the illusion of work. The illusion of effort. Or perhaps, for those who actually buy them, the illusion of sanity.
The Barracuda Straight Leg Jeans aren’t pants. They’re not even fashion. They’re a costume for wealthy people who see work as ironic – not iconic. To them, might I suggest the revolutionary new "Borax Wash," which I discovered some years ago while rescuing birds who had the misfortune of falling into Searle’s Lake in the lovely and picturesque town of Trona.
If Nordstrom’s wants to carry them, the description would read something like this:
“Finally - a pair of jeans for the hard-working gent who doesn’t want to actually wear them. The Borax Wash is so rugged and so manly, they don’t even need a human to hold them up! So sit back and relax, secure in the knowledge that your work pants can’t be folded or stored like other jeans. Show the world you mean business by owning the only jeans that can’t be worn! The jeans, that can stand on their own!”
$600 - only at Nordstrom.
He dragged Nordstrom through the mud for selling these dumb-as-hell jeans. And real mud, not whatever synthetic dye they used to make these faux-dirty pants.