Ripped jeans and past fashion

What do Henry VIII of England and the youth punk culture have in common?

More than you’ve ever thought!

Choose a pair of ripped jeans and you’ll be super trendy this summer. Skinny or high-waisted, relaxed or fitted, boyfriend, cigarette or cropped, the essential one must be ripped!

1970s is the IT-decade of this season’s trends and not surprisingly the ripped jeans are the protagonist of this ultimate glamorous revival, which is taking inspiration from the rebel attitude of the 70’s generation.

But don’t be fooled by those rebellious people. They just set the ripped jeans as a status symbol, but they didn’t create anything new.


During the Renaissance, a flourishing fashion habit shocked society. This extremely vain and scandalous trend, consisted in cutting a garment, in order to pull the fabric from the undergarment through, to form puffs. This practice was called slashing and puffing.

The vertical, horizontal or diagonal slits in the fabric of the garment were considered as an insult, not only because the expensive fabric was irremediably damaged, but also because this trend was an indecent and superb showcase of the aristocratic wealth.

Henry VIII of England slashing and puffing details

Slashing and puffing were the symbol of real luxury, so that the government applied sumptuary laws, whose intent was to restrict the use of slashing and puffing. In fact only the sleeves of the garment could be cut and the white camicia pulled through them.

Even if the concept behind those two practices are very different, the final intent of both is very similar. Either ripped jeans or slashing and puffing want to disobey the common taste and the common fashion rules, in order to gain attention, expressing a strong message and a firm idea.

Ripped jeans set a hedge between the past’s fashion habits and the brand new way to wear damaged clothes. They mirrored a society based on devastating economic rules, corruptions, discriminations and inequities.

Angelo Bronzino slashing and puffing details

Young generations, rock-stars and innovators saw into ripped jeans the lacerations of a world that was irremediably changing.

On the other hand the “rock-stars” of the Renaissance (the most famous one was Henry VIII of England) were all concentrated to demonstrate their opulent richness, without caring about the preciousness of their marvellous fabrics.


My Final Thoughts

So when you’ll go shopping for a pair or ripped jeans, remember that the idea behind them is 500 years old and just in case you need to justify the ripped jeans to your parents and friends , you’ll surely impress them with this story.