If you picked up yesterday’s New York Times–or, more feasibly, downloaded it to your tablet/smartphone/MacBook Air–you may have noticed something simultaneously gag-inducing and hilarious: A piece declaring the imminent “comeback” of ‘dad jeans.’ Yes, dad jeans–those light washed, high rise, roomy denim pants favored by Jerry Seinfeld, Barack Obama, and most recently, Kanye West. The style may have found itself trumped by the rise of the skinny, low-waisted jean some fifteen years ago, but according to the article, they’re ripe for a revival.
“They have been popping up in street-style blogs like Tommy Ton and the Sartorialist, as well as at fashion-forward retailers like Acne, Supreme, J. Press York Street, Baldwin, Billy Reid and A.P.C.” the Times reports. “Don’t donate those Jerry Seinfeld jeans to the Salvation Army just yet.” I mean, if the leader of the free world is into them, the rest of the world can’t be far behind. And look at it this way: five years ago, we would’ve scoffed at anyone who said we’d be wearing bleached out, high waisted ‘mom jeans‘ in 2013. Right? …Bueller?
But here’s the thing: As much as we generally regard the Times as a reliable, trustworthy news source–and as much as we lovelovelove our precious mom jeans and the fact that muffin top is a worry of the past, we were skeptical. Could dad jeans ever look cool? Would hip young non-dads embrace them? We took to the mean streets of New York to ask the “trend”‘s prospective wearers–young, style-conscious men, whether they would wear dad jeans.
The overwhelming response? Oh haaaaale no! (In so many words.) When presented with a photo of President Obama, Shane, a 39-year-old product designer, said, “I hope those aren’t back–and I would never wear them. I don’t like the fit, I don’t like the style. They feel sloppy to me. I like clean cut.” Alrighty then. Another sharply dressed fella who preferred to remain anonymous (perhaps out of fear that Kanye West would come after him) told us, “They look busted. I don’t have any better reason than that. I just don’t like them.”
Justice, a 30-year-old who actually works in men’s merchandising, doesn’t see dad jeans happening–regardless of West’s personal preference for faded bottoms. “Men want their jeans to be slim, fitted, not necessarily tight, but clean. I don’t think they’ll get big. I can’t imagine it. I mean, Kanye wears a lot of things… skirts, kilts. That doesn’t necessarily mean that’s going to trickle down to young kids.”
To be fair, the Times did warn us this would happen. “Early adopters risk ridicule,” writes author Alex Williams, later referencing BuzzFeed‘s fashion month West roast after the rapper wore dad-like jeans to several shows. So where exactly is the New York Times getting its information from?
As with most menswear fads, this one seems to be starting–and ending–with the unfazed-by-ridicule #menswear crowd. But those #menswear guys are really into their dad jeans. Nick, a 26-year-old retail employee who would “100% wear dad jeans,” lamented, “I don’t have them currently, but I made an attempt to get the Kanye x A.P.C. collab, and there were some in a very similar wash. I will get them.”
Also on the dad jeans station wagon is brand consultant Chris Black, 30, who recently purchased a pair of faded Levi’s. “They are just more comfortable and practical for summer. No one wants to put on selvedge denim in July in NYC,” he explains. Indeed, it seems many men have grown tired of breaking in their once trendy raw denim jeans–dad jeans are just really comfy. Comfortable enough to do dad things, like, say, bounce a baby on your knee! Or wash your car with a hose.
Says Four-Pins editor, Fuck Yeah Menswear author and former raw denim hoarder Lawrence Schlossman, “Despite [raw denim's] inherent cool factor, they were impractical to my lack of patience with the breaking in process and desire to not hurt my dick.” Schlossman and his penis now own dad jeans from three different labels.
But Lucky editor John Jannuzzi is quick to point out that what #menswear has ordained ‘dad jeans’ (those include yours, Kanye) aren’t exactly the baggy, loose-fit ones you see four out of five guys sporting in the ‘burbs. “[Are] actual dad jeans [in]? No. Menswear-blogosphere-ordained dad jeans? Of course,” he says.
“There’s nothing wrong with a pair of well-fit faded denim–a pretty iconic look, actually. Although, if you are looking for ‘one way to stand out at a Bushwick loft party,’” he says, referencing the Times‘s piece (which, yep, recommends wearing dad jeans for standing out at a Bushwick loft party), “you have way more serious problems to address than your denim. For real.”