Friday, April 28, 2017

Cash Crop - Dirty Jeans

I often see notices for workshops on alternative crops. A few times a month, the Sunday business section of the regional newspaper has short blurbs advertising a nearby learning opportunity for specialty crops. The farm publications that fill our mailbox also offer educational options for things other than the customary wheat, alfalfa, corn and cattle income.

But I think I've found the Mother Lode. So I am about to propose a new business plan to my farm partner. We should become a supplier for Nordstrom's. Yes, Nordstrom's department store could be the answer to a lagging farm economy.

Earlier this week, Nordstrom's got a lot of publicity for a pair of new men's jeans. Here's what they said about their fashion offering:
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.
And they're only $425 a pair. What???!!!! $425 a pair for dirty-looking jeans? Yep. It's not a misprint.
Randy's jeans - and this was after he'd used a stick and grass to remove some of the grime.
I must confess that I've suggested my farmer change clothes on occasion before going to town in the morning. I am not always the world's best laundress. In fact, I am probably not going to win any awards for washing Randy's work clothes. I could spend a lot more time with stain remover and a scrub brush before running them through the "heavy" cycle on the washing machine. Nevertheless, they are, after all, work clothes.
But I admit to cringing a bit if a heavily-stained t-shirt is what Randy pulls from the closet to wear to breakfast at Joan's. Though I doubt there are many critics among the guys having their hash browns and eggs over easy at the local cafe, I'm still reluctant to show my incompetence as a farm wife.

Who knew those stained jeans and t-shirts were actually evidence of "some hard-working action" ... and not my ineptitude in the laundry department?

For that $425 hit to your wallet, the jeans are described as
  • True to size.
  • Comfortable through the seat and thigh.
  • Classic straight cut from knee to ankle.
As I reported last week, commodity prices for wheat are currently lower than they were back in 1975 when I graduated from high school. Let's do a little price comparison. I did some online research about the price of jeans in 1975 - the same year I used for the wheat price comparison.
With a sharp intake of denim and breath, blue jeans in the ’70s tightened their hold on ’60s hippiedom to become the second skin of disco-dancing, high-living swingles of the Me Decade. Retooling the boxy Levi’s look into form-fitting pants with fancy stitching and big labels, designer-jeans makers pocketed nearly half a billion dollars in 1979. And on June 25 that year, the once-humble trousers received the cultural counterpart of being knighted: The New York Times proclaimed them a full-fledged phenomenon with the feature ”Status Jeans: Lucrative Craze.” Promising to make their wearers chic and sexy, designer jeans cost about $35, roughly twice the price of down-to-earth Levi’s. 
1977-era ads found at the Target website.
I realize Target isn't Nordstrom's, but the pricing is still eye-opening!
OK, so back in 1975 or so, designer jeans were $35 (though you could get regular old Levi's for half that price and even less at discount stores.) Today, Nordstrom's is selling dirty-looking jeans for $425. Wouldn't it be nice if the price of wheat reflected even a portion of that response to inflation?
Nordstrom's is also selling other styles at a similar price, but I'm looking at the piles of organic matter we have here on the County Line, thinking they don't need to import dirty jeans from Portugal. We farmers are always looking for domestic trade!

If that's not enough grunge, Nordstrom's can hook you up with a mud-look jean jacket, too.

 Deep caked-on, baked-in muddy smears give you permission to get down and dirty from rodeo to grungy rock show in this cotton denim jacket that embodies rugged Americana, from its classic pockets to every crinkled and bleached accent.
"Dirty Jobs" host Mike Rowe posted about the fashion trend on his website, saying the Nordstrom's jeans were proof of "our country's war on work."
"They're a costume for wealthy people who see work as ironic — not iconic," Rowe wrote on Monday in a post titled, "Jeans made to look like you work hard so you don't have to."
If they are interested in women's jeans with a similar "rugged" look, we can do that, too. Here are the bottoms of my jeans and tennis shoe after our cattle moving on Tuesday.

So Nordstrom's: Are you ready for a shipment of some fine, Kansas organic matter? We are ready to deliver! Or if you want us to take some of your jeans and apply some "caked on, baked in, muddy smears," we can also oblige. We can even offer a small farm discount as a trade incentive.

And if you need a fragrance to go along with those designer duds, just say the word. We've got that covered, too!


  1. The ad for these jeans made the rounds here too in Australia, and I was also looking at my washing basket with new eyes. Who would have thought that mud cased trousers would be a fashion statement. I always insist on getting changed into clean clothes prior to going to town. Maybe I don't need to!!

    1. Who knew dirty jeans could be a status symbol?!

  2. Replies
    1. Our son says it was a marketing ploy by Nordstrom's. They've generated a lot of talk in farm country, for sure!

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  6. I am a huge fan of denim- I have been toying with the latest additions lately, but jeans are still my BIG favorite. I am not sure how I could get dressed everyday without a pair of jeans. I admit I fall in and out of love with each of my pairs of jeans constantly – I am not going to fess up just yet as to how many pairs there are.