I don’t buy jeans often. Maybe every two or three years. For a long time now, my go-to was Levi’s 511, which is a slim but not skinny silhouette that works very well on my frame. The other selling point for me with this particular style number was the availability in rigid, selvedge denim. Well… not anymore, apparently.
Over the last decade or so, Americans have developed an irrational demand for clothing that stretches. I say irrational because the need for stretch implies that wearer requires flexibility in movement. But the country’s steady weight gain has me scratching my head on that one.
Denim is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to stretch, which I consider to be the high fructose corn syrup of clothing. Part of the problem might be the fantasy that every body type should be able to squeeze into any size and style, no matter what. I still don’t get it. I’ve been wearing jeans made with regular, 100% cotton denim for nearly 50 years, and I’ve yet to encounter any jeans-appropriate situation that would be made better with elastane.
And let’s not forget that stretch is made from rubber, which is plastic, which eventually blows out and stops stretching and ultimately breaks down, becoming toxic. But I digress.
I went to Levi’s website hoping to find a new pair of 511s in my regular rigid, selvedge denim. They were usually around $150, which was worth it, since the 12 oz raw denim lasted longer. But no dice. In fact, every pair of 511s that Levi’s now sells is made with stretch denim (1% or 2% elastane or more). Every. Single. Pair. Really, Levi’s? What the fuck?
The only stretch in my regular, non-athletic wardrobe is in my socks and in the waistband of my underwear. Nowhere else. This ridiculous need for stretch in absolutely everything we wear is a plague. It’s stupid, and it needs to go away. Like J.Crew, Levi’s has forgotten what’s in their DNA and abandoned generations of customers like me who came to them for reliable, consistent quality. Until Levi’s remembers where they came from and who they are, they’ve lost my business.