Are Nordstrom's "Dirty Jeans" An Insult to Those Who Do "Dirty Jobs"?

Nordstrom wants to sell you a pair of jeans that look like you’ve been out working in the mud for $425.

The Barracuda Straight Leg Jeans aren’t actually dirty, they just look dirty. And they cost $425. From their website description:


“These heavily distressed medium-blue denim jeans embody rugged, Americana workwear that’s seen some hard-working action with a crackled, caked-on muddy coating that shows you’re not afraid to get down and dirty.”

Except of course… no one will be outside working, in $425 jeans. As Mike Rowe, of Dirty Jobs fame, pointed out in a post called “Jeans Made to look like you work hard so you don’t have to”, the jeans and the description are all about image, not about actually getting dirty doing work or anything else…

But forget the jeans themselves for a moment, and their price, and look again at the actual description. “Rugged Americana” is now synonymous with a “caked-on, muddy coating.” Not real mud. Fake mud. Something to foster the illusion of work. The illusion of effort. Or perhaps, for those who actually buy them, the illusion of sanity.
The Barracuda Straight Leg Jeans aren’t pants. They’re not even fashion. They’re a costume for wealthy people who see work as ironic – not iconic.

While I agree wholeheartedly with Mike Rowe’s sentiment, in reality it’s marketing. Much like the flannel wearing kids of the 1990’s, fashion trends are sometimes ugly and difficult to understand. Most Americans would have never even heard of these jeans if it hadn’t been picked up by Rowe and a few others in the Media.


Nordstrom isn’t exactly the first shopping choice of blue collar workers. There can’t really be a “backlash” if those offended weren’t ever going to shop with the chain in the first place. However, it does drive traffic to their website… which I believe is part of their marketing strategy at this point.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen strange publicity stunt products from Nordstrom. You might remember they offered a rock in a leather case for $85 a few years ago, and it sold out. Although, this might tell us more about the Nordstrom customer more than it does about their buyers.

This isn’t even the first controversial pair of jeans for the company. Earlier this year the added, “Clear Knee Mom Jeans” to their site. the clear knee’d jeans have a plastic window panel, so ladies can show off their knee caps. clearjeans

To me it looks like a clear attempt for some free publicity, and it is working. What do You think?


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