In the constant uphill battle to convince people that having most of their rights stripped away isn’t “cool,” Orange Is The New Black has made things all the more difficult by sparking a fashion trend—at least, according to Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel. Under his direction, the Saginaw County Jail has done away with its bright orange jumpsuits that Federspiel says have taken on a “cultural coolness” thanks to the show, of which he admits he’s only seen “snippets.” (If he had, perhaps he would know that Orange Is The New Black’s fictional inmates prize khaki jumpsuits.) Nevertheless, Federspiel explicitly blamed the Netflix drama, about the complex relationships forged at a women’s prison, for influencing kids to head out to “the mall or in public” wearing the orange jumpsuits, presumably to have their own “cool” discussions about their confusing sexual feelings. “The name of the show, Orange Is The New Black, is saying it’s cool to wear orange, and the show is enormously popular in Michigan,” Federspiel said, also a sheriff of interpreting things.
In addition to sending the message that “It’s not cool to be an inmate of the Saginaw County Jail”—and nothing makes something uncool more than being denounced by an authority figure—doing away with the orange jumpsuits also has the practical effect of differentiating real prisoners from poseurs at the mall. This prevents the former from escaping, and the latter from trying to slip into prison so they can be cool. Instead, Saginaw convicts will be wearing more traditional, vintage jumpsuits with horizontal black-and-white stripes, similar to costumes worn by people on Halloween, so as to avoid any possible confusion. They’re also reminiscent of the Hamburglar, who burgles hamburgers—something that is decidedly uncool.
“We decided that the black-and-white stripes would be the best way to go because it signifies ‘jail inmate,’ and I don’t see people out there wanting to wear black-and-white stripes,” said Federspiel, who shops at the weirdest mall in the world.
Nevertheless, Federspiel is ever mindful of how difficult it is to stay ahead of today’s prison fashion trends. “It’s cyclical. And there will come a time in the future when I change back to another color or different attire,” Federspiel said, coyly neglecting to share a glimpse at his look-book. In the meantime, however, he’s deftly avoided the fickle, “cool” fads of today’s Orange Is The New Black-crazed kids and gone with this more heritage-inspired line of prison jumpsuits, an aesthetic that no trendsetter has ever tried to emulate.
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