Travel-Worn & Stressed

Fashions In Clothing

Texas Cowboys - Artist Ann Rogers
Pic: Texas Cowboys – Artist Ann Rogers

Back in the ’60s I was buying American denim jeans and jackets from my friends, merchant seamen on the UK to NZ run via Panama. I was buying them to sell in NZ as they were unavailable in our country at the time. Wrangler, Levi Straus, Lee Cooper and Lee Rider clothing was just making its mark on the world and the enterprising ship’s crew would buy-up large in Panama, both going south, and north – of course, we were avoiding onerous legalities like Customs Duties. These new jeans were renowned for their fabric’s toughness. That, plus the allure of the articles’ associated imagery with America’s ‘cowboys’.

Blue Denims

The original denim was really tough; in fact it was so ‘firm’ it was initially uncomfortable to wear and the strong blue dye could leave you blue-skinned. My sailor friends, when they bought a pair of these jeans for themselves, would tow them behind the ship for a few days to soften them up and fade the colour.

Dress Denims

Another decade or so on and the manufacturers were pre-fading the jeans and softening them by ‘stone-washing’ – literally tumbling them in a barrel of water with stones in it. This literally shortened the life of the once robust denim by years – but, the market rules and ‘the customer is always right’ – right?

Another decade on and the durability and toughness of the denim was no longer a selling point. The manufacturers and marketers realised their customers didn’t give a hoot about durability; they just wanted the faded denim look and a neat fit. While this coincided with a demand for coloured denim: white, pale blue, orange, green and red, too, it was all about the back pockets’ stitched design – the early days of serious branding to come.

Pocket Detail - Blue Denims

Another decade and we’re into the 2000s and ‘quality’ is turned on its head. While people in less affluent countries and with more fixed traditions were attempting to dress smartly, those more affluent folk in the so-called ‘Developed World’ were dressing-down – in a big way.

Grunge music and clothes fashion started in Seattle in the USA and while it certainly embraced dressing down, it, like the career of the American actor Rip Torn, predated the fashion of Pre-stressed Clothing, a unique and exclusively Western phenomenon of the 21st Century.

Torn Denims

Pre-stressed clothing may represent one of the strangest clothing fashions yet because, as the word ‘fashion’ implies, these clothes can be very costly. For some reason, the marketers had decided it was ‘Rip Torn’ Jeans that the public wanted. And the public must have wanted, because a pair of (what many of us would call ruined) pre-stressed jeans can cost in the hundreds of dollars. So jeans with shredded fabric, tears and holes became a desirable item to wear (for some). The idea, I can only guess, is to look poor (in a $300 pair of raggedy jeans?); to appear as though you can afford only the one pair of denims you bought several years ago and, woe is you, they are so-o-o-o worn now but, hey, what can you do (said with a modest shrug)? And this strange fashion still persists to this day. It could make a good subject for a thesis by a student of Psychology.

Far be it for me to judge the gullibility of the fashion-conscious public and the evident brilliance of the marketers but, an image does come to mind: a chubby, Buddha-like figure laughing uncontrollably at the folly of mankind in the face of this demonstrable evidence that some people in our ‘Developed’ World not only have far, far too much money (or too easy access to ‘credit’ – which may equate to the same thing), but that these same people clearly lack some intrinsic, basic intelligence.

SmileyOops. Did I say that?


Spain, Gibraltar, the UK and Family

19th July 2015

Well, brief but bountiful …..

But first a little lingering memory of Morocco: on our first day, all the young blades, the old, young girls and women were dressed in their finery for the celebration of the end of Ramadan. It was an eye-popping, rich tapestry of colour and styles. Unfortunately, we were quite unable to confront the crowds of people on the pavements with our cameras as they approached and passed us; it seemed just far too intrusive so – no pics. The following photos may give you some idea, but fall far short of the real, colourful and beautiful designs. Daily, even after Ramadan, Moroccan streetwear clothing presented us with a kaleidoscope of colours and styles anyway: Ali baba trousers; gorgeous flowing gowns; full, black-robed niqab and burka-wearing women; and young men wearing the most modern and stylish designer jeans, shorts and t-shirts (styles ripped off in Turkey and sold here much cheaper and of good quality). The variety of clothing was entertainment in itself.

Tanger - Moroccan attire

Tanger Clothes Shop Morocco

Our arrival at the end of Ramadan, on the other hand, was perhaps not the best time to arrive as there are another two full days where most of the shops and food producers are closed – we’ve struck this before. However, the rudiments were there, but nothing to compare with in-between the Ramadan fasting period when Moroccan food production and snacks excel.

Return to Algeciras
What’s to say? We both like this big port city but it can be very grubby and the current heat-wave doesn’t help. We are once again staying near the port itself, but had to change our accommodation after a couple of days because we couldn’t sleep in the oven-like, non-air-conditioned room. We managed to score a much bigger, spacious-and-cool room in another small hotel just 50m away. It had air-con and cost the same (30 Euros per night).

There seems to be more street hookers about lately – none of them too young. Maybe the heat brings them out.

Off to the UK in a day or so to visit my Uncle in Buckingham (flying out from Malaga), then down to Eastbourne to visit an old friend and his missus. After that (about a week to ten days maybe) we’re off on a mystery tour with Rachel at the helm, counting down our last days of this holiday.

Old Algeciras

Of course, we walked over to Gibraltar across the runway from La Linea (on two separate days) and visited my family; an enjoyable walk-down-memory-lane experience for us both.

The outer suburbs of Algeciras are surprisingly well kept and in some parts very flash. We passed through them on a local bus on our way to the neighbouring beach of Getares and the village of San Garcia. It isn’t a bad part of this corner of Andalucia though clearly developed in the holiday-villa style. It is a pleasant break from our gritty (but savoury and colourful) current domain. A lot of the locals in these outskirts keep horses and mules, and not for steeplechasing or shows.

It is incredibly hot and humid today, and we are assured by locals that this is not typical for this time of the year – we are in the midst of centennial, if not greater, climate change.

Rock of Gibraltar in background from up above Getares Beach
Getares and Rock of Gibraltar in background Spain

This horse in Algeciras’ outskirts has just been given a cooling hose-off
Outskirts of Algeciras Spain

The beach of Getares
Playa Getares Spain - Gibraltar in background