reality cracking
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Ok, you observe a phenomenon, the first reaction is to ridicule it. But you soon notice that there are powerful forces behind it. And knowing how to search you can throw some light in the lairs of the dark spiders, the scary caves where the muffled sounds of advertisement can be heard and where the commercial vermine happily prays on the stupid slaves' behaviour...

Young slaves' behaviour, wabi, sabi and Levi's Jeans
"How they exploit stupidity - part 1: The Emperor's New Clothes"
by fravia+, June 2002 ~ (version 0.03 September 2002)

The 'stonewashed' jeans scam. Amazing enough, I was unable to find any sociological examination of these phenomena on the web.
"stonewashed" (sic)     ~      "aesthetic bleach" (sic)
"vintage jeans" (sic)     ~      "wearing an attitude" (sic)

For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance;
but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

— Matthew 25:29

De rerum natura
I want to point out that I am NOT an expert in this "Fashion-semanthic" field, and that -therefore- I count on my readers' savyness (and their future contributions) to ameliorate the following short considerations.
But I am getting more and more convinced that people are very often being tricked into paying horrific sums for less quality, whereas with a little discerning knowledge (and/or searching ability) anyone can have BETTER objects (gadgets or non gadgets, this is irrelevant) in terms of quality, duration, value and enjoyement potential. And that you can have these better choices for next to nothing, compared to the 'frill penalty' you would have to pay for any of the advertised lures.
This I have found true for many items: watches, wines, apartments, books, cars, software, yachts, food products, computers, printers and so on.

This said, I believe that you will find among clothes (more generally among fashion items) some of the most easy to reverse scams: just think of all the zombies around you, proudly trodding along 'wearing' on their clothes some advertisement (in big letters or under the form of a logo): sandwich men that paid for this dubious 'honor'.
That's nothing. Among blue jeans we have - I believe - an even more striking example, that we'll examine today.

I hate advertisers! Prostituted brains! Worse than those 'three halfshells' scam performers you meet on some dark alleys. Under the three moving cups you may at least believe to have a theoretical chance to win, behind the advertisers' rutilant new clothes only void (and ridicule) awaits you.

Stonewashed mon oeil
'Stonewashed' or aesthetic bleached' jeans are "faded before you bought 'em". And according to the commercial beasts that manage to sell such weared-off' jeans to the young slaves, "you do not wear a jeans, you wear a Levi's attitude".
It should be noted en passant that these very jeans are of course everything but really 'stonewashed' (you don't think they still would use real pumice stones nowadays, do you?).
No. They use enzymes that 'just' damage the textile threads, they use sprayed "sand jets", that weaken the texture, they use ceramic balls friction in order to 'wear off' quickly the denim tissue.
The only "guaranteed" added advantage of such a procedure is that the resultant "stonewashed" products will have for sure a shorter usable-life... not surprisingly, having been weared off on purpose in order to deliver the promised "attitude".
So they are selling to the young consumer slaves an eo ipso inferior product for a superior price.
Woha! The secret nasty dream of every second hand car seller came true! Sort of a "science fiction reality": evil aliens from reptil planet are selling - with wicked gusto and malignous purpose - damaged non working products to a zombified human race!

Wabi, Sabi and Levis' jeans
Now we all know that there's a (sound) zen attitude towards 'weared' and consumed object. According to the zen culture, objects must have some wabi: the controlled haphazard. Rice or tea bowls out of shape, for instance, with cracks, blows and ashes in the glaze, invite us to partake of the process of creation trough theit asimmetry and imperfection. "Wabi" is not only beauty, but also restraint and moderation.
Clearly this is not the case here. Even in the west, the real prerequisite of any 'consumed beauty', in a piece of furniture, in a jewel or in a boat, is that the object was consumed by use and/or by time. Not by scam.
Nobody in his right mind would ever come to the idea of purposedly wearing an object in order to acquire a 'weared' look, unless... unless -as it is the case here- you are a scammer, keen into deceiving people.
In that case the better the scam, the more useful it will be for the success of your deceiving purposes: new furniture -for instance- has to 'look' old for the idiots that do not understand a zilch; copies of paintings that are not real, but have to deceive some ignorant buyer, should look 'fatigued'; supposedly old 'tin toys', at the local flea markt, come mostly straight out of some Taiwanese fabric, with battered paint and all; faked banknotes should not -of course- look new... and so on.

There is a zen exception, though: sabi.
The more advanced zen concept of sabi: "making a piece look old" is driven by a fascinating philosophy: there is no need to "wear the new off" in order to give them character: the objects are already mellow and unpretentious. The potter has created the sense of wear, which is a quality considerably more difficult to realize than any aura of newness.
So far so good, Levis commercial minions could use these very words to defend their stonewashed zombies' pride.
Yet the MOST IMPORTANT POINT in the context of sabi unpretentious objects, is that the potter, the producer, WANTS the zen conoisseur to understand what he has done: to see the clay, to feel and admire its texture, to appreciate the reasons for the type and color of the glaze. He wants the buyer to gain MORE knowledge, not less! It is a deliberate aesthetic device, reminding one that the potter is an individual artist, not a faceless craftsman.
With our "Stonewashed Levis jeans" example the sabi approach is commercially perverted. The wicked purpose is here the exact CONTRARY: you want buyers to be uninformed, faceless zombies, all wearing the SAME faked object, all paying -happily- more money in order to get less quality, subsconsciuosly KNOWING IT.
Of course in order to get this effect you have to stonewash a little their brains (should "stonewashed" jeans buyers really possess similar devices in their skulls :-)
As you can see watching Levis' advertisements, they deceive their own buyers with gusto, moreover there is at times even a cheap, evil, quite evident sarcasm: for instance in this french advertisement "Usés aux genoux et aux fesses, effilochés en bas et à la taille, vous êtes dans la peau d'un autre et qui sait, si vous deveniez quel-qu'un que vous étiez?".

Deceivers have ALWAYS enjoyed faking antiquity for commercial purposes. Yet, usually, they have been very careful NOT to let people understand the trick. Else even average ignorants would never have fallen for it.
Levis does the contrary, and preys on (and prays for :-) the stupidity of the young zombies. For these little slaves, that have slurped almost exclusively TV-commercials since their little eyes went open, frills and appearence are EVERYTHING, and substance and content mean nothing. They have been created and educated in order to consume. And they will die consuming.
The incredible aspect of the stonewashed scam is that it bases on the happy acquiescience of the victims. Translated it means: "Hey bozo! Please pay me MORE to give you a product that will for sure have LESS quality, guaranteed!".
In fact the little zombies would not even WANT a pair of solide new jeans, not even in order to wear them out, eventually, with the necesary time and real life experience that is needed to wear things out. They seem generally to dislike any 'reality' intruding into their TV-conditioned lifes.

They just want "the look": they desperately want to look like anybody else. It definitely does NOT look like they would want to be seen as "individuals": a real "individual" (a species in danger of disappearing nowadays) would buy the most solid jeans on sale, even Levis if tough enough, why not? He would check their quality thoroughly - he would know how to check it - and once satisfied he would tear off any etiquette on sight.
Finally what slaves kept in captivity since many generations really love the most is to OBEY, not to rebel: they are conditioned to do, buy, read and believe whatever some evil commercial mind tells them to do, buy, read and believe.
Like guinea pigs answering with salivation an electric shock for the 100th time, they are so conditioned that they would not even understand how to question their pavlovian behaviour.
They will probably make good cannon fodder for the powers that be... I doubt you could use them anyway for anything else, with or without their "stonewashed" attitude.

Note that blue jeans are a sociological phenomenon per se and should represent -theoretically- one of the few 'democratic' pieces of clothing, that both princes and unenployed (not to mention unemployed princes :-) can theoretically wear in any occasion. In fact blue jeans are (or rather should be) actually 'proto-fashion' articles: their position being at the opposite of the extremely unwearable "haute-couture", a sector where affluent zombies are lured into paying huge quality-unrelated sums for a particular "name" that should automagically justify the extra price.
Once more what plays a role is not the quality but the frills. Yet there is a difference: The economic divide! Both categories are thoroughly scammed, of course, but scamming poor people is as easy as shooting the red cross: poor zombies are more easily transformed in sandwich men and tricked into wearing their masters' names tatooed in big letters onto themselves, whereas a slightly more subtle approach is necessary for richer zombies: "It's so expensive you cannot go wrong: have an Armani suit, mylord" :-)

Reversing codes and other snippets
Levis can retail for up to $200.00 a pair of vintage looking 501 in Japan and nearly that much in parts of Europe where supply is held scarce. Note that the same jeans are sold in the States for $40-70.
Hence it is quite clear that the company is artificially restricting supply by limiting sales to authorized retailers.

Every pair of Levis jeans has many codes and hidden markers that identify the year and a lot more to an expert. For example, even the tiny red tag on the back right pocket can tell you something. If the "E" in Levis is CAPITALIZED, that means the jeans were made prior to 1971 and could be "worth" hundreds of dollars. Not because of the quality, because of the induced fashion. Such a situation is saddening to say the least: maybe we should simply take advantage of the zombies ourselves, faking these easy to reverse codes :-(

'Stonewashed' jeans fulfill the slaves' desire of 'looking like the advertisement dolls' (peer pressure will also guarantee that they will look exactly like their classroom companions). The clothes will "look" stressed out, nicely worn for "the right reasons", without the actual experience of being buffeted by circumstances beyond the young slave's control.
There is a last economical peculiarity here: Generally, in markets where the per capita income is low, it is advisable to simplify the product, or sell it in smaller unit quantities (eg toothpaste or disposable razors), to reduce the sales price. However, for some products, like Levis jeans, low per capita income affects neither the demand nor the sales price.
Looks like the quadrature of the circle for stonewashed jeans resellers, duh.

Consuming Society depends on an uninterrupted supply of new consumers. The sons of men who worked to buy $7 Levis (and make the manufacturer of Levis rich), must now work to buy $70 (in Europe and Japan much more) Levis for their sons (and make the sons of Levis even richer). In the intervening time, however, something has changed. The $7 Levis were an excellent value because as "workpants" they met a need, protection from the elements and the abrasion of physical labor, and taking account of inflation would sell today for about 3 times as much. In fact, that's about what the current version of the old model sells for. The $70 (in Europe and Japan much more) "stonewashed" Levis are not as durable, so what is it that gives them their value? The answer is "status", the status of un-needed consumption in a context of ignorance. The difference in price is due to the fact that "fools" cannot see the real value of objects trough the advertisement fog, and thus will not pay for value, but -like Andersen's famous emperor- for whatever they are told they should see.
Sadly it is the children who are the most taken in, and consider such things important. Having been thoroughly stripped of any sense of their own intrinsic worth, substituted with a sense of values based on what is outside them, these young slaves have no defense against the commercial beasts that -like vultures- feast on them.
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