The Untold Story of The Stain

The Untold Story of The Stain

As we start to see "pee stained" designer jeans selling in the thousand dollar range I think it's about time we start talking about stains in a new light.

I'm not sure what exactly sparked this thought journey, perhaps it was when I spilled coffee on the sleeve cuff of my trench coat, in any event, I've started to become a little obsessive over the idea of stains and their current acceptance in society. Within this journal entry I plan on evoking some thoughts on the purity of the Stain and its stigma. Why do we, as fashionable individuals, love the rips and holes but despise the Stain? Why do we go through every means possible to eliminate it? Is there a story to be told that the Stain holds a special place to tell? Let's explore some thoughts as I make the argument why stains should become more socially acceptable.

Side note: Now, of course, there are certain stains that I will under no circumstances vouch for. Those would be the stains mainly associated with hygienic or bodily fluids. I just want to be clear on that.

Let us begin by exploring the cousin to the stain - The Tear. Over the past 20 or some odd years, the tear has become widely acceptable and even worn as a badge of honor for most brands to suit fashionable aesthetics. You see the tear on the runway and on many ready-to-wear off-the-rack collections. I've even seen some custom creators using special sanding tools to create artificial tears in denim, cotton, and other materials for jackets, shirts, and t-shirts. Many designers such as Ye have fully embraced the tear as a symbol of luxury. But what really is the tear other than an imperfection in the garment? Whether it is naturally occurring or artificially implemented, the fact remains. Tears are imperfections. If that is the case, and we could similarly argue that stains are fundamentally just that - imperfections, then why is it that the tear is glorified and readily purchased, while the stain is cast to the garbage can? Could it have to do with the exposure of what lies beneath or does it have to do with something deeper?

Forget about the luxurious tear and its now permanence in fashion. I'm here to vouch on behalf of the stain. Some see it as ugly, but I'm inclined to see deeper than the superficial nature of the visual aspects of the stain. The stain tells a story. "One day Ian was hurrying at home to not be late for work, and in his haste, he quickly reached for the travel cup to transfer the rest of his morning brew. While his mind was on the morning's traffic into Boston, he slipped and spilled some of the coffee onto the cuff of his coat." Now, the question is, will he neglect the stain and continue on his day, or will he take the extra time needed to change coats and later try to wash out the nasty remnants of the coffee fiasco? In this case he chose to leave the stain there and carry on with his day, but many people do just the opposite. If anyone was to ask me (Ian in this case) what I was doing with a coffee-stained trench cuff, I could easily have told them that there was a story behind it. There's a story behind every stain, in fact, the more stains that we have, the more stories we have to tell. Stains can actually be intriguing.

On another note, we will go to almost any and all lengths to remove stains. To understand our natural inclination to remove stains we first have to take a look at human nature and psychology. Do we want to remove stains because we want to remove mistakes that we've made? Does it have to do with our false image as perfect creatures? I would argue that our perfection-oriented nature in our current society is an absolute driving force for our need to eliminate stains. We see our clothing as being an extension of our physical features, therefore, to eliminate stains in our clothing means to eliminate mistakes that we've made to ourselves. We, as self-conscious individuals are ashamed to show those imperfections to the general public. What a shame. We do this when we narcissistically clean our homes and bathrooms before we have guests visit. We even clean cervices where we know our guests would never even come close to! The same narcissism appears when we refuse to wear clothing with stains. Most of the time they would simply go unnoticed. I believe that we should start to embrace our imperfections and wear the stains as a way of showing off our self-confidence. Don't be ashamed that your life is imperfect, everyone's life is imperfect.

Stains show character and make you stand out from the crowd. No two stains are the could they be when there's so many factors involved to make a stain?

Another point I would like to touch on is purposeful staining. We welcomingly embrace purposeful staining but scoff at stains created by mistake. Tie dye is simply a matter of purposeful staining. Many garments are pre-dyed with indigo and other natural ingredients, and we seem to find those stains perfectly normal. The incidental stain adds color, character, and also comes with a story. Can your indigo denim say the same?

To be honest, I, myself, have been guilty of the prejudice of stains. I once bought a phone on craigslist and when I went to pick it up, I was met with an individual who was wearing a white shirt that was so stained it might as well have been tie dyed. My immediate thought was "Ugh, nasty, I hope this phone actually works." Looking back on that event, I'm ashamed in my judgement. I just as easily could have been faced with an individual who was far ahead of the game in terms of stain storytelling. That shirt probably stuck with him through hell and high water and remained loyally starch to that day. Knowing what I know now, who am I to judge?

I'm not sure what the future holds for the Stain but I hope that we take a good look at who we have become. We should be taking further actions to remove not the Stain, but the stigma attached to it.

-Ian Drake, Diversity Consignment

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