Premium Denim and the Great Gatsby

Last weekend, by chance, I ended up at the Blues Jean Bar in the Marina. They have jeans, jeans, and more jeans. It’s rather impressive. However, I did a little research and it seems that their prices are over retail, so I doubt I would ever buy anything there. I also don’t like the fact that they keep all the jeans behind the “bar,” so you have to ask for everything. One thing I hate when shopping for clothes is interacting with the sales people.

Since last weekend I’ve given myself a minor crash course in premium denim. No, I definitely can’t distinguish the pocket design of one brand from another, but I did find a pair of jeans from AG called Great Gatsby. Being a complete sucker for all things Gatsby, I immediately wanted them. Not only did they bear the Gatsby name, but they also reminded me of another Gatsby-related piece of apparel, the Gatsby shirts from J. Peterman, which I first encountered in the Peterman catalog ten years ago when I was in high school.

However, after thinking about it, the AG jeans just seem downright stupid to me. While the Peterman shirts at least claimed to be inspired by Gatsby—the very shirt that Gatsby wore! the same sort of shirt that he would toss on the floor causing Daisy to weep!—I could never imagine Gatsby wearing AG jeans, not then and not now.

Though I can believe in the Peterman shirts, silly as they—and his whole catalog—may be, I can’t really believe that there’s anything at all Gatsbyesque about the AG jeans. It’s sort of like Moleskine notebooks, where the labels claim that Picasso and Hemingway used them. And, in fact, they actually did use similarly designed notebooks. Dave Eggers and many others actually use Moleskine notebooks themselves, which adds to their appeal. Of course, having the right tools counts for nothing if you don’t know how to use them, but their inspirational power—commercial and exploitative as it may be—also carries a degree of reality.

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