Putting together a rugged, working-class style was once as simple as toiling away in a dirt field every day until you died. But changing times and technology have softened us; where our stiff dungarees once bore the telltale stains and scratches of hard labor, now our soft Pajamajeans are flecked with the croissant crumbs and e-cigarette juice of a life spent reading the internet until it’s time to go home and read the internet. We used to work for a living, and because of that, our pants looked like John Steinbeck took a shit on them. How can we possibly recapture that kind of old American self-reliance and grit?
As always, Nordstrom has the answer to a question you didn’t even realize you were asking. The purveyors of “clear-knee mom jeans” (for women who know motherhood doesn’t mean giving up on sexy knees), and $85 leather-wrapped rocks (for today’s busy urban sophisticate who doesn’t have time to juggle rocks barehanded like some kind of village idiot) are now offering a pair of pants that come pre-caked with “mud” and “grease,” all for a mere $425. Put these on and reconnect at once with the sweat and the soil. Or, at least, the concepts of them, which any politician will tell you is just as important.
The Barracuda Straight Leg Jeans hail from denim manufacturers PRPS, whose line of uniquely distressed, identity-conferring jeans varies from “Jackson Pollock” to “Member of Warrant.” But as the product description conveys, the Barracuda represents a trueborn American ideal, made with pride in Portugal:
Heavily distressed medium-blue denim jeans in a comfortable straight-leg fit embody rugged, Americana workwear that’s seen some hard-working action with a crackled, caked-on muddy coating that shows you’re not afraid to get down and dirty.
Of course, some have taken issue with the idea that purchasing $425 jeans pre-smeared with fake mud “shows you’re not afraid to get down and dirty,” as opposed to the exact opposite. Leading that charge has been Mike Rowe, former host of Dirty Jobs, a show that championed hardworking people as they went through day after day of backbreaking labor, just to get some of the coolest, dirtiest jeans around.
In Rowe’s opinion, these jeans represent part of “our country’s war on work,” providing “a costume for wealthy people who see work as ironic—not iconic.” Rowe further unloaded on Nordstrom in a Facebook post that lamented, “‘Rugged Americana’ is now synonymous with a ‘caked-on, muddy coating.’ Not real mud. Fake mud. Something to foster the illusion of work. The illusion of effort. Or perhaps, for those who actually buy them, the illusion of sanity.” It’s kind of a lengthy read; better hitch up your mud jeans.
The jeans also came under fire on Fox & Friends Tuesday morning, where hosts Brian Kilmeade and Ainsley Earhardt bemoaned “the kid who inherits millions of dollars, the kid who doesn’t want to work hard and wants to go into Nordstrom, pay a lot of money and act like they work” becoming a defining voice in the American economy. Presumably this was shortly before a segment complaining about how the media doesn’t respect Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
And yet, for all the furor they’ve created, these pants have generated hard labor, as we here in the content mills put noses to the conveyor belt, our smokestacks belching digital soot, as we grind out take after take on why pre-muddied jeans are kinda dumb. If only someone could make a pre-Starbucks-iced-coffee-stained jean for us, the 21st-century worker.