Want Your Clothes to Look Luxe and Designer? Destroy Them! I Dare You To ...

4 years ago

Have you ever gone to the dry cleaners to pick up that oh-so-delicate sweater, only to find that the dry cleaner had completely destroyed it? You were outraged. It was pristine, it was perfect, it was “new” -- now, it is a misshapen pile of junk that screams “my dry cleaner killed me.”

Alas, another item in the goodwill bin.

Or ... maybe your dry cleaner was doing you a favor. Maybe your dry cleaner, after years of cleaning your delicate items, understood that you were stuck in a wardrobe rut. You were forever tied to your prehistoric notions that to dress “well” was to be wrinkle-free, perfectly hemmed and tailored. And they knew that you needed a drastic push in the right direction, or you would be forever left behind one of the biggest clothing trends to hit the runways.

Call it what you will, the “destroyed look” is making major waves. In Hollywood, it is normal to see a star in a jacket that looks that it was just pieced together with a hot glue gun, but in Normal People Land, even fashion followers have been slow to catch on. No one wants to look poor or unkempt. But alas, I am here to tell you, the shabbier you look the chicer you will be.

I remember a few years ago at a Paris fashion fair (I’ve written a bit about working the fashion fairs here and here), when “washed leather” was all the rage. Basically, luxury leather artisans were taking well-made motorcycle jackets and throwing them in the wash!

Don’t believe me? Take designer Giorgio Brato as an example. I met Giorgio at a fashion fair. It turns out his family used to hand-make perfectly tailored motorcycle jackets, with the precision and artistry that makes the Italian leather industry famous. So what did Giorgio do? He threw them in the wash! Take a look at this jacket. He started destroying leather jackets and has had nothing but success since. He took his run-of-the-mill family business, and launched it into the innovative designer stratosphere.

My mission is to take this distressed trend to mom style --just think of the potential! Did your toddler touch your new white blouse with hands covered in bright red finger paint? The paint you bought, specifically because it said "super washable" on the bottle -- but then after it was washed, his cute little red handprints just faded into cute little pink handprints? NO PROBLEM, WORK WITH IT. Take a razor, add a few rips, add a few yellow drops, put it all in the wash with a litre of bleach, and just wear it. "Oh this old thing? This is a new designer brand". No longer do we need to fear that our children will destroy our clothes; they are only helping us become less mediocre.

The buzzwords to describe this new trend are: "distressed", "unstructured", "destructured", "aged", "raw hem" (taglio vivo in italian) and "washed" (lavato in capo). I can tell you that in my research for this post, I only found clothes that fit these keywords on designer clothing sites.

Still don't believe me? I've compiled a little list of some of the designers who are riding the destructured wave.


Painted Check Shirt - $438

Grey cotton check shirt from G. Guaglianone featuring a classic collar, a front button fastening, long sleeves with buttoned cuffs, a patch pocket at the chest, green paint splatter across the chest and a curved hem.

Even though this is a men's shirt, I thought I'd include it anywa, since it is the epitome of what's going on in fashion. You thought I was kidding about wearing the shirt your toddler stained. But I'm not; fashion is now about going places you'd never thought you'd go.

Avant Toi

Linen Blazer - $1,024

Blue merino wool blend jacket from Avant Toi featuring a notched collar, front triple button down closure, one chest welt pocket, and raw edge trim details throughout. Has two front patch pockets, long sleeves with buttoned cuffs, and single center back vent.

Alice Waese

Double Layer Moto Jacket - $2,454

Grey calf leather jacket from Alice Waese in collaboration with Hostem featuring a round neck, a front zip fastening, zipped front pockets, a contrasting fabric underlayer that is longer than the sleeves and hem, an overlock stitch detail and a detachable inner wool lining attached with solid silver safety pins. This jacket is hand finished.

The Challenge

I challenge you to take the leather or suede jacket you've had in your closet since 1999, the one you don't want to give away, because it's leather, but you also haven't worn in 14 years. Throw it in the wash. What is the worst that could happen?

Come on ... just do it! I double-dog dare you!

I have to admit, I did something similar a few months ago. I really needed to take my beige Zara blazer to the dry cleaners, but I just didn't. I don't know why I didn't . I just didn't. It sat in the "need to be dry cleaned" bag for a while and then one day I just threw it in the wash. I had been walking along Via Taglio in Modena, which is a pretty chic shopping street, and I had noticed that EVERY SINGLE THING in the window displays looked completely wrinkled and destroyed. I think that Italians are making "wrinkly" into a major fashion statement because we don't have dryers here, which means after you wash and line dry your clothes you have to actually iron EVERYTHING before wearing it out.

So instead of ironing, they are trying to make wrinkly the new black.

Anyway, I had this realization: "What if I just wash that Zara blazer?" What happened, you ask? You'll find out tomorrow! I'll post a new look with the destroyed Zara blazer. Yes, I have actually worn it out in public -- after all, I don't want to fall into a wardrobe rut. Freedom is a destroyed blazer.

Now I'm just waiting for Gianni Guaglianone to design a nice men's dress shirt with a big black iron stain on it, so that my husband realizes that when I destroy his nice dress shirts while ironing I'm also doing him a fashion favor!

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