A natural progression from the punk ethos of the mid- to late-70s, ripped jeans first became popular as a fashion statement during the hard rock and heavy metal heyday of the late 80s When metal gave way to grunge as the subculture of choice in the 90s, the alternative and grunge scene took the ripped jeans look with them, making them an iconic form of counterculture menswear. While they disappeared from the racks of most clothing stores around the turn of the century, they have seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years. Partly as part of a generalised nineties revival in fashion, but also because… well… they’re still as cool as ever.
However, there isn’t just one type of ripped jeans. There are a number of styles to choose from, and getting the right look for you is important, even in the field of distressed denim wear.
Ripped and repaired jeans
Ripped and repaired jeans are specially distressed denim whereby the holes have been torn into the material in strategic places (typically both knees and one thigh, though other combinations have been heard of) and the tears partially repaired in some manner. Certain designers have actually used denim patches to fill the holes completely, often in a contrasting colour. It can certainly be a striking look, but it doesn’t offer the classic, ragged look most people are after in their ripped jeans. Another way of doing it, and one that better matches the traditional aesthetic, is using a backing fabric that looks as though the tears have been sewn and split, giving a more threadbare look to the rips. It’s a classic style and one that’s particularly well suited to skinny and spray on jeans..
The polar opposite of the ripped and repair jeans, destroyed jeans consist of a pair of gaping holes, one over each knee. This is the classic rock star look, and the sign of some hardcore distressing. You won’t see any repair work here (although some go for a combination of both, with one knee repaired and the other destroyed), as the intention is to give the look of a complete denim blowout, complete with the widening of the tear, and ragged edges. Whilst regular ripped and ripped and repair jeans can be worn as part of a smart-casual ensemble, destroyed jeans tend to go best as part of a fully casual day-look. Paired with a simple pair of boots and a T-shirt, the destroyed jeans become the focal point of the outfit, just as the holes become the focal point of the jeans, giving an edgier feel than the combination might otherwise have had.
Knee Rip Jeans
If the destroyed jeans are the extreme end of the ripped jeans spectrum, the simple knee rip jeans are very much the restrained version of this particular trend. Instead of gaping holes torn out of the fabric, the knee rip style consists of a single cut or tear, just at the lower edge of the knee. It’s enough to allow a little flash of skin when walking, but could easily pass unnoticed if you’re standing around in a restaurant or club. It’s a hint of rebellion in an otherwise regular piece of legwear.
All three styles of ripped jeans have their adherents and their detractors. Some favour the subtlety of the single knee rip, others the full-on edginess of the destroyed knees, and still others the DIY ethic promoted by the ripped and repaired jeans.
Whatever style of ripped jeans calls to you, you can find it at Sinners Attire.