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I got my first pair of jeans when I was 26 years old. I just moved to the United States, and, after some examination of my wardrobe, my stepfather told my mother that I needed to go shopping. Understandably, my Lithuanian clothes did not fit well into an American lifestyle.
My first jeans were from Gap. I still remember that odd feeling of foreignness that those jeans stirred in me. I finally realized that I was indeed in a different country, in an unfamiliar reality.
Jeans were not a very common form of attire back home. In the Soviet Union they represented the cold war. The Soviet Union would neither produce them, nor sell them. Understandably, the Soviet Union used fashion (I, personally, would not call it that) as a tool of political propaganda. I had to wear a uniform, with ugly brown and black colors, to school for ten years.
Even in the Soviet Union, there were always people who could get you anything you wanted. However, because those certain things that people wanted were not “soviet,” they were traded in the black markets.
Blue jeans were a hot item in those underground bazaars. The price of jeans were about $40-$50 equivalent. If you are wondering how expensive this was, let me tell you that you would have to put down your monthly salary for a pair of jeans. What is more important, no one could guarantee the authenticity of the jeans you had acquired.
In post Soviet Union time, when we were hungry for everything western and forbidden, jeans represented not just a new life without a Berlin Wall but a status symbol. However, I was not into jeans, because I never understood their appeal. I did not care about a status symbol. You won’t believe it but I was not really into fashion and clothes, and shopping. I was busy trying to figure out how to survive in a new independent world.
Fast forward to 2012, and I own five pairs of jeans: two pairs of skinny jeans, two pairs of straight and one pair of bootcut. The price range varies from $70 to $300. None of them are from Gap anymore.
I don’t really need so many pairs of jeans. I have two favorite pairs that I wear most of the time. Why do I own five pairs?
The problem lies in my relationship with the word “need.” Since I came to the United States my needs somehow mixed with wants, and I lost the sight of what I really “need.” I need food to get me through the day. I need gas in my car to go to work. I do not need a sparkly black top, or a lacy blue dress. Or five pairs of jeans. I talk myself into “needing” things because it is so easy to do.
Looking back at my 26 year old self, I have to admit that those Gap jeans were not bad at all. They were cheap. They were comfortable. They looked good. I loved them. Even now, thinking about that pair of jeans, I feel somewhat nostalgic. What I miss the most is the simplicity I had in my life. Life was less about labels and things, and more about making it in America.