We’ve had moth-eaten jumpers, muddy trainers threadbare T-shirts, and now, the latest designer trend . . . £600 jeans, with custom-made grass stains at the knees.
The frightfully trendy but distinctly grungy denims are the work of fashion house Gucci, which last year brought us ‘distressed’ (some might say grubby) trainers with a starting price of £615. Described on the Italian fashion house’s website as ‘eco-washed organic denim’ with a ‘stain effect’, the jeans are part of its ‘grunge vibe’ winter collection.
Not since 1980s soft rock gave way to 1990s grunge have those who prefer their denim in one shade of unadulterated indigo been quite so distressed by the plethora of ripped, stained and threadbare offerings out there. And, judging by some of the price tags, shoppers may need to go prospecting for gold to buy them.
Beth Hale gives her verdict on recreating designer distressed jeans using money-saving tutorials. Pictured left: Beth wearing H&M £19.99. Pictured right: Beth wearing Acne Studios £370 ‘deconstructed’ look
However, there is a money-saving solution: the internet is awash with tutorials on how to distress jeans, from fraying edges with razor blades to using a box cutter and tweezers to create holes.
But what works best, and how easy is it to get the distressed look without spending a small fortune? BETH HALE recreates designer looks, using High Street denim and a variety of tools. Could you tell the difference?
CONSTRUCTING THE DECONSTRUCTED
Acne Studios’ £370 ‘deconstructed’ look vs H&M’s £19.99 undeconstructed white ankle grazers
Tools: A pencil, old white jeans, scissors, sewing kit.
Time: 90 minutes
Process: Acne’s ‘deconstructed’ jeans look less work of art than grubby old denims. I use a pencil and rub the nib up and down both legs. I use an old pair of jeans for patches, cut and fray the hems and I have my own version of Acne’s.
Verdict: I’d be ashamed to be seen in either pair.
SHREDDING WITH A STANLEY KNIFE
Distressed jeans by Childhood with an ‘authentically livedin look’, £300 vs Uniqlo at £34.90
Beth used a Stanley knife to shred £34.90 jeans from Uniqlo (pictured left) to recreate the £300 design on offer by Childhood (pictured right)
Tools: Chalk, Stanley knife, cardboard, sewing pick, steel wool
Time: 2 hours
Process: I mark my shape with chalk, then stuff cardboard in the leg and make horizontal cuts with a Stanley knife. It takes ages to tease the threads loose.
Eventually, the blue horizontal threads loosen, and those that can’t be pulled away lift off with steel wool. All that remains is to cut the white strands remaining so they drape down each side of the hole.
Verdict: I’m not sure I want to get a cold knee in autumn, but my jeans are more comfortable than the designer pair.
BLUE INK AND A PAINTBRUSH FOR WEATHERED LOOK
Loewe bleached fishermen jeans, £525, vs Dr Denim at Asos, £38.50
Beth said it took just half an hour to achieve the look of Loewe’s £525 bleached fishermen jeans (pictured right) with a pair from ASOS for £38.50 (pictured left)
Grate expectations: A cheese grater (pictured) produces perfect frayed hems
Tools: One blue fountain pen ink cartridge, water, a paintbrush, scissors, tweezers, sandpaper and a sewing pick.
Time: Half an hour
Process: Asos has a pair of jeans just as bleached as the Spanish label’s and I use blue ink to paint the seams. I then cut a centimetre off the bottom of each leg, roughed it up with sandpaper and got to work with my trusty pick.
Verdict: This look is seriously easy to achieve on a budget.
HALF AN AVOCADO FOR GUCCI GRUNGE
Gucci’s £600 ‘eco-washed’ denim, complete with ‘stain effect’ vs customised £12.99 pair from H&M’s everyday wardrobe collection
Beth used grass, a green crayon and an avocado on a pair of £12.99 H&M jeans (pictured left) to recreate the latest style style available at Gucci for £600 (pictured right)
Tools: Grass, a green crayon and an avocado
Time: 15 minutes (10 mins experimenting with colours, 5 mins daubing the denim with avocado)
Process: Surely a straightforward task? Sadly, rain prevented play; after attempting to create the real thing and getting nothing but muddy knees, I had to put the jeans in the washing machine and start again.
Beth (pictured) said it took her 15 minutes to achieve ‘grunge’ style jeans, but she fears without a Gucci label her neighbours will just think that she’s been working in the garden
Raiding the children’s colouring box yields a couple of green crayons, but then I spy an avocado in the fridge . . . Sliced in half and the green outer flesh daubed across my jeans, it’s perfect. And it washes out!
Verdict: I fear that without seeing a black and gold Gucci label on the back, the neighbours are just going to think I’ve been hard at work in the garden.
RAIDING THE TOOL KIT TO RECREATE BALMAIN
Balmain’s £1,095 flared-cut, frayed patchwork blue jeans vs a £35 high-waisted pair from Asos
Beth spent three hours using sandpaper to recreate Balmain’s £1,095 flared-cut jeans (pictured right) on a pair from ASOS for £35 (pictured left)
Beth said she preferred her DIY jeans (pictured) to Balmain’s pair because they were too long to walk in
Tools: Chalk, scissors, Stanley knife, cardboard, tweezers, a tiny sewing pick, sandpaper and steel wool.
Time: 3 hours
Process: Creating the large holes in the knees is easier than I’d feared. I roll up some cardboard and stuff it in one leg, then use chalk to sketch the rough shape of a hole.
I gingerly pick up a Stanley knife and slice three wide horizontal lines, then scratch some shorter horizontal lines below it, deep enough that I can start to tease out threads.
I then pick at the white threads that run horizontally across the denim, so they separate from the vertical blue threads. Steel wool is very good at roughing up the fibres.
Using a similar method with sandpaper, it’s easy to use some strips cut from an old pair of jeans to create frayed patchwork to stitch around the pockets, fly and seams.
Verdict: The Balmain pair are so long and flared I can’t walk in them — give me DIY over designer any day!