The black jeans question—are they back?—I thought had been resolved by recent editions of Commie Girl and Trendzilla, wherein CG and I discussed, respectively, patron-saint-of black-jeans Dave Alvin and Levi's 501s (and yes, they are back). But not so.
Now, you've got your Elle magazine claiming that grayed-out black jeans are all, like, back for fall, and that's just wrong on a variety of levels. And who is Elle showcasing as the leader of the grayed-out revolution but Tommy Lee for People's Liberation—coming soon to a Bloomingdale's near you. That's Tommy Lee as in the-dumb-Mötley-Crüe-guy on-all-those-reality-shows. It's a limited line, thankfully: jeans, T-shirts and hats for both sexes, plus a smattering of hoodies and thermals. Fits are invariably close (jeans seem slightly flared), and graphics of koi, lotuses, Asian language characters and nautical stars are inspired by Lee's extensive tattoos.
At which point the jokes begin to write themselves. This is fashion like Famous Stars and Straps—Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker's line—which, like TL for PL, looks as if he stood in the room while someone else designed it. (And it shows.) And so Elle, seizing upon anything Lee-related as evidence that faded black jeans are new again, is just a little ridiculous.
Lee's line is adequate; the back-pocket graphics are okay, and the prices ($242 for women's jeans) are definitely high enough to justify your love. But it's far from great. And the thing no one ever has the guts to point out about grayed-out black jeans is they kinda look like shit.
They're sleazy—but not in some adorably slutty way that translates at all. They're sleazy like the guy we saw talking to the cops outside some liquor store in Santa Ana. In black jeans. Okay, see, the cops stopped him because he ran from them. (Maybe also because he was wearing an MTV Video Music Awards baseball cap—I'm just raising that possibility.) And he was on parole—see? Not adorable. Doesn't translate. Just looks kind of homeless. Knows its CDC number by heart, too. That's scary.
So: black jeans? Okay, especially if they're 501s and they're not over-dyed. (Happy hunting.) Stove-pipe black jeans? Okay, too—for at least the next five minutes. Grayed-out black jeans? Only if you're Dave Alvin, who somehow makes it work. Maybe because he smokes Kools.