James Jarvis thinks about trousers

drawing above: James Jarvis

James Jarvis denkt, dass die Semiotik von Beinbekleidung in der Vergangenheit einfacher, transparenter und ein klares Produkt seiner Zeit war. In postmodernen Zeiten vermisst er zwar peinliche, aber doch zukunftsorientierte Statements wie die Tech-Pants zur Jahrtausendwende, lt. Jarvis der letzte Atemzug der Moderne.

Er fragt sich, ob die allgegenwärtigen Chinos der letzte Ruf nach Authentizität sind – in einer Gesellschaft, die im Spektakel versinkt. Jogginghosen platziert er auf einer Skala von alles oder nichts:  Hoffnung fĂĽr die Zukunft oder symptomatisch fĂĽr eine sinnentleerte Zeit?

Fehlt den Jogginghosen die Struktur, so ist das bei gebĂĽgelten Chinos anders. Aber es wäre doch nur eine RĂĽckkehr, da die Chinos im 19. Jht. aufgekommen ist …

text below: James Jarvis – originally appeared in Free skate magazine, January 2018

Trousers, Some Thoughts Pertaining to

Trousers are a complicated business in these post-post-modern times. In previous decades, the semiotics of leg-wear were simpler and more transparent; from Jimmy’Z to Blind jeans, your sartorial statement was a clear product of its times.

But in the clouded cultural miasma of the 21st century can trousers actually mean anything anymore? At the turn of the century it nows looks like the swishy tech-pant was the last gasp of Modernism before skaters (so reactionary despite the dynamic nature of our physical pursuit) embraced the omnipresent polyester work pant and knitted hat. Where once we were progressive and fearless in looking forward, we now appropriate workwear in a last, desperate attempt to cling on to something real.

Does tucking in your shirt really add meaning to your outfit? Are Gilbert Crockett’s ubiquitous, magisterial chinos a last cry for authenticity as we drown in the Society of the Spectacle? Or is any meaning and power they might possess diluted or negated by that very phenomenon? Is the universal, democratic sweatpant a hope for the future, or is that particular garment’s lack of structure symptomatic of these empty times?

It’s like you need a degree in philosophy to be able to make sense of it all.

Where do we go from here? Pleating might perhaps add some structural interest to the chino, but it’s still a piece of clothing that originated in the mid-19th century. Those looking further afield into uncharted waters might consider the plus-four or a pair of breeches. Perhaps a full set of bleu de travail offers the ultimate in working class realness, or perhaps you will just end up looking like Monty Don.

I don’t have any easy answers. The magical power of skateboarding is its ability to transform and repurpose the world around us. Maybe we just need to do the same with our trousers.

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