Who Would Buy This Thing? is a series that spotlights particularly egregious commercial objects and tries to imagine who might indeed pay money to own them.
You’ve got to feel bad for J. Crew. The all-American brand has failed to keep pace with its competitors at both fast-fashion and luxury outlets, obliging the company to lay off about 250 employees last spring. Jenna Lyons, the charismatic face of the company and its long-standing creative director, stepped down around the same time, presumably as part of the shake-up.
None of this excuses J. Crew for the sins it has committed against pantkind with this new offering, though it does help explain how this pair of sherbet-colored Juggalo slacks came to be. They debuted at the brand’s fall 2017 ready-to-wear show, about one year ago to the day, making them one of Lyons’ last acts before her exit. I’m not saying they triggered her ouster, but I’m not not saying that, either.
If there’s one nice thing to say about these pants, it’s that they are honest to a fault: They promise an “ultrawide-leg,” and, if anything, they overdeliver. They are less pant than brainteaser. What shape of body would necessitate such a slim waist with such a billowy abdomen? What shoes are you supposed to wear with these—certainly not the low-profile tennis shoes the catalog model sports? Won’t the hems drag on the ground, getting all dirty and frayed and, in the winter, wet and salty? Is that the point? Should you gather the pants like petticoats and daintily tiptoe around like ladies in ye olde days?
So many poor decisions contributed to the end design of these trousers, of which there are astoundingly “only a few left,” according to the J. Crew site. They might have made sense as a pair of statement jeans, but in a poly-silk blend, they look like ill-fitting, easily snaggable pajamas. They might have bordered on something resembling chic if they had a flat front and a discreet side zipper, but with a bulky extended-tab waistband and fly—perhaps a mark of J. Crew’s cost-cutting measures? But then why use so much fabric on the pants???—they seem constructed by a manufacturer who specializes in Velcro sneakers. In a neutral color or bold print, someone could have pulled them off. Instead, they abuse the senses in an unflattering shade of lavender better suited to a Lucky Charm or a unicorn café.
These “dramatically voluminous” pants are a testament to the danger of unregulated trends. We all knew skinny jeans were over, and that the invisible hand of the ever-hungry market was forcing our calves into pairs of wide-leg pants we thought we’d left behind in our raver days. But this trend has moved too fast for our own good—it only took pants about a year to go from “Hmm, am I really supposed to be wearing jeans that move around in a heavy wind?” to “FABRIC MUST NEVER TOUCH LEGS.” When the Smithsonian erects a museum devoted to the history of improbable fashion, these pants will represent the era that forgot the terror JNCOs inflicted on our tween years. If we never learn our history, we are doomed to repeat it, shredded hems and all.
Who would buy this thing? A Juggalo with a sense of whimsy, or an unusually shaped raver with cash to burn
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