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What does a pair of ripped jeans mean to you?

We asked millennials and post-millennials across India this question. This is what they had to say

NIFT student Denisha Bakrania says wearing a pair of ripped jeans makes her feel a part of history,
NIFT student Denisha Bakrania says wearing a pair of ripped jeans makes her feel a part of history, (Courtesy Denisha Bakrania)

Uttarakhand’s newly-appointed chief minister Tirath Singh Rawat recently remarked that wearing ripped jeans is leading to societal breakdown, setting a "bad example" for children.

Commenting on a social worker’s choice of clothing while on a flight, Singh said on 17 March: “I looked at her and she was wearing gumboots and jeans ripped at the knees. I asked her what she does, and she said she runs an NGO. She runs an NGO and her knees are showing. She goes amidst the society, she has kids. What morals will she teach them?” He was speaking at the inaugural session of the two-day workshop organized by the Uttarakhand State Commission for Protection of Child Rights in Dehradun.

We spoke to people from different walks of life to understand what a pair of ripped jeans means to them. Here's what they said:

Ayesha Amin Nigam, 30, celebrity stylist, Delhi

Ayesha Amin Nigam
Ayesha Amin Nigam

“There are far more pertinent conversations that need to be had than of ripped jeans and women’s knees showing. The western world is talking about the safety of women and how women go through various things to make sure they are safe on the streets where they’re supposed to feel safe. Ripped jeans are just an added aesthetic value to an outfit. It’s about comfort or how someone just likes wearing them. It’s about basic likes and dislikes of a person. It’s a very personal choice. And I don’t think it has anything to do with too much or too less westernisation or exposure of men or women.”

Samadrita Khasnabis, 22, content writer, Kolkata

Samadrita Khasnabis
Samadrita Khasnabis

"For eons, we have been dictated by society on how to act, dress, behave, even feel. To assert yourself, voice your opinion, and even take up space, can be quite challenging, especially if you’re a woman. And I believe fashion is a powerful ally in helping us express ourselves. So, distressed jeans for me are a form of making a statement. There’s almost an element of rebellion to it without trying too hard. I would like to believe my style leans a lot towards streetwear and distressed jeans have always been an important streetwear essential. I feel powerful, cool, and comfortable when I wear it, so why shouldn’t I?"

Denisha Bakrania, 23, fashion communication student, National Institute of Fashion Technology-Jodhpur, Jamnagar

“I feel that ripped jeans have a very significant importance in my life, keeping aside a few practical reasons as well. It might be because of the punk moment that happened in the 70s, where people around the globe felt liberated by ripping their clothes, getting tattoos and multiple piercings and wearing carefully chosen rebellious pieces to express their freedom and revolt against the norms of the society. That was their expression of freedom and I carry the same feeling with me when I wear this pair of ripped jeans. I feel free, strong and confident. As a Gen Z fashion student, it makes me feel a part of history, a part of that moment and it makes me wonder how a certain piece of clothing can have such an impact on society all these years. Besides, it also has practical benefits like being so comfortable and breathable during the summers when you don’t want any piece of clothing sticking to your body."

Neha Celly, 37, founder of denim design house Bluehemia and zero-waste brand Nece Gene, Bengaluru

“Ripped jeans were popular in the late 1980s during the hard rock/heavy metal era and in the 1990s and 2000s during the grunge era. Of course, it became popular much later in India as it saw more Western influence coming. For me, it's an absolute personal choice whether you like your jeans clean or distressed and that choice really depends on your age, work and the overall space you're in. I've been in the denim industry for many years and have seen the ripped jeans trend at its peak and have seen it fall off. Before the pandemic, it was all clean and classic jean as a massive trend. During pandemic though, the comfort took priority, so relaxed fits, softer fabrics and ripped casual jeans became a trend.”

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