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This bit of raw denim got us thinking. As with most high-end jeans, the main selling point here is the material: the finest Japanese denim, guaranteed keep getting better for decades to come.

Since the fabric warps to fit your body, there isn’t much point in bragging about the cut or the skills of the designer. What you’re buying is the fabric; everything else is secondary. It’s an attention to material you don’t see much outside of bespoke houses, but by now it’s second nature to the streetwear crowd.

As much as designers and editors try to steer the currents of style, the buck always stops with the consumer. Now that name brands aren’t worth as much, the industry’s biggest task is convincing the public that they’re buying something other than a label. And if we really want to educate people on materials, raw denim isn’t a bad place to start.

It’s too high maintenance to be a mainstream taste, but it’s more widespread than any similarly material-minded trend—and it might still reach the mainstream in a more watered down version. And if it’s enough to teach the folks in H&M how to spot a shoddy fabric, it will have been more than worthwhile.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom