Life of Jeans: From PLANTS to PANTS (Part 2)

< old habit :: owning more jeans than necessary >

Throughout years of fashion, denim jeans have always made their mark in retail.  No matter what season, jeans are constantly being produced; whether to supply new trendy patch  jeans or to feature popular boyfriend jeans fashion brands now consider a basic essential for any cool girl or guy.

There are many reasons why jeans are always on the market: Well, for starters, they’re simply wonderful clothing pieces: I can always rely on a pair of comfortable blue jeans for any occasion because they go with any outfit. Another reason is because they are so versatile in the different styles into which they can be designed. As trends come and go, consumers are left buying all sorts of jeans from flared to skinny and high-waisted to low-waisted, just to keep up with the current fashion.

After years of being an avid jean-wearer I decided to evaluate my closet, specifically my jean collection (yes, there is a collection and I’m not proud of it). I found that of the 12+ pairs of jeans I bought throughout my lifetime, I now only really wear 4 of them. The rest are folded prettily in the depths of my closet. While my 4 pairs get the spotlight, the others simply collect dust.

My situation is common to many. A poll by ShopSmart, from the publisher of Consumer Reports, revealed that 25% of American women own 10 or more pairs of jeans. The average American woman owns seven pairs of jeans. However, most women only wear four pairs out of their jeans collection on a regular basis.

While there’s a guilt in not loving those closet jeans as much as my daily worn jeans, for some reason there’s always a pull to buy the next best thing. For sure, there is nothing wrong or unhealthy about owning jeans (you’re talking to the jean queen here). But over-consumption has fueled our society and the media really makes us believe that we always need more.

Let’s face it: Jeans are great. But we don’t need THAT many pairs.

Why Does This Matter?

Most consumers don’t know how jeans are actually made. Here’s a diagram showing you the process:

The crazy thing is, every step of the production process generates waste in one way or another. Again, it’s not bad to produce jeans or consume them, but there is grave danger in over-consuming and overproducing.

Dangerous environmental and social consequences exist from the start of production. Many cotton farms grow cotton using methods that leave farmers with illnesses due to chemical pesticides. Indigo dye is often dumped after use creating toxic waste water pollution.  Garment workers sew products day by day in questionable conditions and while the fashion industry as a whole has improved significantly in giving fair living wages to workers, we can always do more to encourage value of workers.

< new habit :: focus on the jeans you already have >

Now that we’ve exposed this habit of owning too many jeans, what do we do now? Don’t feel guilty --It’s all about conscious consumption.

Evaluate your closet and your weekly go-to denim choices: Which jeans do you wear the most? Which go with almost every outfit? Which are comfortable, functional, and versatile? Whichever pair those may be, stick to it, love it, live in it. Find contentment in really owning those solid one or two pairs of jeans.

Knowing you have pairs of jeans essential to you and ones that fit and feel great, hold off on buying any new ones. Take it from me (again, the jean queen), you really, really don’t need it. As you become more and more content with the products you already own, sooner or later you’ll come to find that looking good doesn’t necessarily mean consuming every new trend out there.  

- Written by Gracie Leung

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