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Trou Shares 

An udderly unique fashion foray gives farmers a leg up

Published April 2, 2003 at 5:00 a.m.

O, lissen up, people -- I've found a way to start a new fashion craze and help save the family farm. It's called "Dirty Britches." I sense your eyebrows raising already, but bear with me. Vermont isn't exactly known for its couture culture, but everyone agrees it has something called cachet. That Green Mountain magic helps sell everything from snowboards to salsa.

Next observation: distressed jeans. They've been with us since the '80s. Remember acid-washed? Happily, that oops-I-somehow-spilled-bleach- all-over-my-pants look went the way of scrunchy socks and linebacker shoulder pads. But "distressed" was an idea whose time had come, and it stayed with a vengeance.

Thanks to the near-pathological excesses of capitalism, you can now buy jeans that are predamaged in lots of creative ways: stonewashed, blasted, sandblasted, antiqued, "rustic," streaked and -- my personal favorite -- "destroyed." And though the original blue jeans style is still with us, you can also get bootcut, slouched, low-rise, flare, ultrabaggy, relaxed and individually custom-fitted.

Now, jeans have been associated with work since the sturdy riveted denim was invented in 1873. In the '50s, bad-boy studs such as Marlon Brando and James Dean gave them sex appeal. Over the latter 20th century, an ironic phenomenon called "working-class chic" evolved, popular with those who had never labored a day in their lives. That is, the blue-collar, get-your-hands-dirty-and-wipe-'em-on-your-ass kind of labor.

So what did the fashion industry do but oblige? From country-squire Carhartt to Gap carpenter jeans to the Fossil "Loco-Motiv," we've got trousers that give the impression we just tuned an engine, built a house or rustled up some cattle. Or look like we could.

Speaking of cows -- bet you can see where I'm going with this -- let's get back to the farm. A Vermont dairy farm. Few would disagree that dairy farming is hard work and poorly paid, and therefore is one of the noblest professions around. Furthermore, the family-owned dairy farm is an endangered species. Tie this to the above-mentioned working-class chic and sex appeal and you've got what? Dirty Britches!

That's right, with my new line of jeans, everyone from skatepunks to CEOs can look like a Vermont dairy farmer. Dirty Britches are for all genders and all ages, from roomy Diaper-Butt Baby Britches to the flattering Farm-Wife Fanny model to Fred Tuttle-style overalls.

Never mind international boycotts of all things American; jeans are entrench-ed as the world's most popular clothing. So sales will surely go through the roof! All profits will go into the Dirty Britches Deep Pockets Fund, and will be dispensed to ailing Vermont dairy farms.

And just how are Dirty Britches distressed? I asked someone who goes through a pair of jeans in six months. George Woodard, a part-time actor and musician and full-time organic dairy farmer in Waterbury Center, counts the ways.

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About The Author

Pamela Polston

Pamela Polston

Pamela Polston is a cofounder and the Art Editor of Seven Days. In 2015, she was inducted into the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame.


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