TORONTO - The resurgence of '90s grunge-inspired fashions has broadened beyond ripped jeans with a wide assortment of apparel showing noticeable signs of wear and tear.
Consumers seeking an edgier look are gravitating towards distressed and destroyed garments like ready-made knee-baring denim and shirts bearing holes and cutouts.
High-profile stars have embraced the retro revival, with Beyonce, Rihanna, Kanye West and One Direction's Harry Styles all spotted sporting ripped jeans in a range of washes.
Christie Ressel, image consultant with Fashion Translated, said purchasing distressed clothing may appeal to those who want the feel of their favourite worn-in sweater without worrying about the garment falling apart.
"You get that same soft, comfortable fabric and luxury appeal with something that's got maybe more strategically placed holes .... It's got a little bit more refinement to it."
Daniel Carman, co-owner of Over The Rainbow, a premium denim boutique in Toronto, said there has been a lot of rips and use of distressing in denim this season.
"It's really exciting because it breaks the standard clean norm that we've been used to seeing in the past couple of years, and it's been growing because people just want something new and different."
Carman said considerable work goes into making holes, raises and etches in the material to achieve the weathered look. But despite its frayed, worn-in appearance, he said there isn't a whole lot of difference when it comes to caring for distressed denim compared to "clean" jeans.
"It really depends on how the customer wears the product," said Carman.
"It's going to go through the same wear cycle as any normal jean.... I think it's common sense if there's a hole in a jean, you have to be careful where you put your foot because you might create a bigger hole."
While some may be unsure of how to pull off wearing shredded styles, Ressel suggested opting to wear either a top or bottom that's distressed — but not simultaneously.
"Of course, you can wear two at the same time, but that's more of a very heavy trended look and it's a lot easier to make a mistake with putting that look together — so it's easier to look sloppy."
As with any type of clothing, fit is always king, Ressel noted.
"If you can find something that flatters your body type and flatters your silhouette, it really doesn't matter what you put on, it's going to look amazing."
Canadian Living fashion and beauty director Julia McEwen said for those employed in a more creative environment, distressed garments could be an option for the workplace — with a few caveats.
"If you're seeing more skin than jean, it's absolutely not appropriate for the office," she said.
"However, if you have a few strategically placed rips in certain areas — maybe nothing close to the butt, maybe more on the knees, just a few little slices — then I think you can definitely sneak it in by pairing it with ... a very crisp oxford shirt. So you have that nice juxtaposition going on of something very casual with something that is more posh."
McEwen suggested women can polish off their ensemble with a pair of strappy sandals or bright pumps.