Dylan Jones: Distressed denim is back – from the bus stops on the Edgware Road to the gastropubs of Soho

Talk of the Town

Share
Related Topics

I remember my first adult recession as though it was yesterday. It was the dawn of the Eighties, and revolution was in the air. Like a lot of young people at the time, I naturally assumed that the problem was of someone else’s making. But – like most of my friends – I embraced the entrepreneurial spirit of the times, and got to work. We were loath to call it Thatcherite but in hindsight it couldn’t really have been anything else. We formed bands, started nightclubs, designed clothes, cobbled together magazines in east-London warehouses. We were accused of fiddling while Brixton and Toxteth burned, but what we were actually doing was laying the cultural foundations of the decade ahead.

I went from being a cocktail barman to a photographer to a journalist in the space of about three months – and, like everyone else I knew, never looked back. We liked to think our lives were built around constant reinvention, which manifested itself in the way we dressed and in what we listened to, as well as how we voted and who we shouted at on TV. We went to ad-hoc clubs in difficult urban postcodes, danced to records that displayed the requisite mix of contemporary funk and bottom-heavy agitprop, and camouflaged ourselves in the appropriate battledress. And the look? Hard Times chic, with heavily torn and distressed denim, to reflect our impoverished lives – a pair of ripped Levi’s, a studded belt, a pair of cheap black Chinese slippers, a wife-beater (aka a plain white vest) and a bottle of Pils in each hand. I looked this way for about 18 months, until my clothes literally fell apart, and it was time to move on.

But now I see that distressed denim is back – everywhere from the bus stops on the Edgware Road to the gastro-pubs of Soho – in something of a major way. Although this time around the look has been diffused by fashion, and what was once the badge of the insolvent few is now the uniform of the not-quite-so disenfranchised many.

Honestly, these days, if you want to look properly impoverished then the only thing to do is dress like a banker.

Dylan Jones is the editor of GQ

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: how to spell BBQ and other linguistic irregularities

Guy Keleny
 

South Africa's race problem is less between black and white than between poor blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa

John Carlin
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own