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NPR Arts & Life

Nordstrom Makes Down-To-Earth Appeal To High-End Market With $425 Fake Mud Jeans

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

There's been a lot of chatter over the last couple of days about a pair of jeans on sale at Nordstrom. The Barracuda Straight Leg Jean is described on the department store's website as, quote, "heavily distressed and an embodiment of rugged Americana workwear."

ROBIN GIVHAN: They're essentially like old work jeans but they're mud caked, so they look a little bit like you got caught in a rainstorm in a field somewhere.

CORNISH: That's Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

So Nordstrom is selling muddy jeans - kind of unconventional. The reason this has gotten so much attention though is the price - $425.

CORNISH: So who exactly is the target demographic for $425 muddy jeans? We asked Givhan.

GIVHAN: Mostly I think it's aimed at people who have a lot of money and not really the wherewithal to go out and dirty up their own jeans.

CORNISH: We also asked for her expert opinion on whether this is part of a larger trend. She says it kind of is.

GIVHAN: It is sort of a cousin to the trend of banal work attire being elevated as status fashion.

SHAPIRO: The designer of these jeans nods to that workman chic idea in a video on YouTube. Donwan Harrell talks about the look he's going for in his luxury denim line. Imagine browsing through vintage jeans...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONWAN HARRELL: Not exactly sure exactly what this guy did for a living but he obviously was around a lot of oil, a lot of grease. And over the years, it's caked up significantly on his pants and the patina is beautiful.

SHAPIRO: While people can laugh about spending hundreds of dollars on jeans caked with fake mud, they might actually sell.

GIVHAN: It seems a little bit silly but, you know, people bought pet rocks, so it probably will work (laughter).

CORNISH: And if you want to fill your shopping cart with muddy jeans and a pet rock, Nordstrom has you covered. You can find the medium leather-wrapped stone on their website. The description reads a paperweight, a conversation piece, a work of art - it's up to you.

SHAPIRO: Actually, Audie, I've got this medium leather-wrapped stone up on my computer screen right now and it's sold out.

CORNISH: Oh, maybe they're selling dirt next?

SHAPIRO: Maybe. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.