Blue jeans are not their lovers.

A realization that comes with age is that old people don’t really dress like old people. We just dress like we always have, but the fashions themselves become old without us either noticing or caring.

▼ And then there are some people like Mr. Sato (pictured in 2022) who really lean into it

Despite this, one item of clothing that I always assumed was timeless was a good old pair of jeans. Durable, simple in design, and all decked out in pockets, these pants seemed to have endured the test of time longer than a great deal of garments.

However, troubling news from the fashion centers of Tokyo may suggest that denim’s days are finally numbered. January of 2021 saw the closure of the iconic JEM store in Shibuya, the flagship store of the Jeans Mate chain, after 30 years in business.

▼ The old JEM store, fittingly surrounded by crows. It’s a Blue Star Burger now.

Although the closure could be attributed to a number of factors, some news reports saw it as further evidence of jeans’ demise. To support this, the website Urban Life Metro cited that the number of pairs sold per year in Japan has shrunk by 30 percent over the past 20 years. They also referred to the variety show Getsuyo Kara Yofukashi, which ran a segment in 2020 titled, “Young People Moving Away From Jeans.” In the segment, one young man who was interviewed said, “I don’t have a single pair of jeans.”

My initial reaction to the theory was disbelief, and that people were just making a mountain out of a molehill. However, I was very surprised to find a wave of anti-jeans sentiment in online comments about the news.

“I haven’t worn jeans in about 10 years. They’re heavy, stiff, difficult to dry, and have no functionality. Not worth wearing.”
“Only science nerds and otaku wear them, right?”
“I don’t want to wear something so hard and heavy. I also don’t like how those ripped jeans look on girls. Just wear shorts.”
“I stopped wearing them too. I think it’s because the pockets are too small for my smartphone.”
“They’re really bad for the environment.”
“They’re good for camping, because they’re hard to tear or burn. I don’t wear them much in the city though.”
“After losing a lot of weight I decided to try some, but they were really uncomfortable so I threw them away.”
“The jeans section at Uniqlo is still really big.”

While it’s becoming more apparent that jeans really are becoming old-people clothes in Japan, the good news for those pants is that there’s an awful lot of old people in Japan. That means there’s still more than enough folks who are as clueless about fashion as I am to keep buying them, and they probably won’t disappear for a very long time.

▼ Yeah! My people!

It’s all good though, since it’s impossible to resist the tides of change. As my hair falls out and glasses get thicker I have no qualms about owning my age and will continue to wear my jeans with pride. I am, however, deeply worried about the future of Japan’s annual Best Jeanist award.

Source: Urban Life Metro, Hachima Kiko
Photos ©SoraNews24
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