Distressed by definition means to suffer from anxiety, pain, sorrow, to be impoverish, and to show signs of wear and tear. But to me distressed means something quite different. It means opportunity, curiosity, creativity, ingenuity and confidence.
Many years ago I was asked if I could distress a perfectly good pair of jeans into a one of a kind wear and tear look. This may not seem like much today, but back then no one was distressing jeans. I was asked by a major national retail chain if I could create a distressed look using their manufactured jeans.
What a strange thing to come into my life. But life is like that — a gate opens and in walks an opportunity. But you must be open and receptive with curiosity, creativity, ingenuity and confidence if you are to succeed. Believing in who you are and what you are capable of doing will surprise you and change your view of what it means to be distressed. The prefix dis means to be apart from. So what distressed really means is to not be stressed. Distressed jeans are like that- when we wear them we feel confidant, free and strong.
I was given two weeks to perfect a wash that would take a perfectly good pair of jeans and turn them into a new look that was sure to be fashion forward. The problem was that no one had done it. The stakes were high, but I was up for the challenge even though I knew nothing about washing thousands of pairs of jeans into distressed wonders. My self-confidence kicked in and I breathed a mighty force. I set out to find a wash house and with the help of a friend who knew someone, who knew someone, with a wash house in downtown Los Angeles we found the guys to do the job. I just needed to direct them and feed them the business.
The wash house belonged to two Korean bothers. It was located in a very rough part of the garment district down town Los Angeles. However, the wash house was gated and the brothers were always there so I felt safe. Over tea and a conversation laced with good humor and honest assessment we struck a deal. I would deliver the order, they would wash and I would then deliver the order to the press house for finishing before being sent off to the stores. Of course there are a million threads of work that goes into making your jeans, but it’s the wash that delivers you the distressed look.
We analyzed the situation and began to develop a plan. Curiosity and creativity took hold. We had to find the right amount of formula (wash) the right size washing barrel, the right number of jeans for the barrel and the perfect mix of stones. This was no easy task. It took hours of testing with disastrous results until one day we hit it right and out came the first pair of perfectly distressed jeans. This was ingenious!
We did it! Success! We filled the stores with racks of distressed jeans. They flew off the shelf and so we made more. This was the birth of distressed jeans. I perfected the wash and started a trend that is still alive today. I see distressed jeans everywhere! It makes me smile.
When I see distressed jeans today I wonder if the person wearing those jeans understands how they got to be distressed. It wasn’t anxiety, pain or sorrow that made your distressed jeans that way, but a happenstance opportunity to create something new that required curiosity, creativity, ingenuity and confidence.
Remember not all things in life come ready to wear. Behind the appearance of all opportunity you’ll find curiosity, creativity, ingenuity and confidence. Those are the washing instructions that make for success.
So put on your distressed jeans and be confidant, curious, creative and ingenious and an opportunity might find you. Remember me. I am the one who made it happen inside a wash house in down town LA. If I can do it so can you! Just dis-stress and believe in who you are and what you are capable of doing. Who knows you might start a trend!
Originally published at medium.com