爱思英语编者按:莱克星顿(Lexington,又被翻译为列克星顿),美国马萨诸塞州一小镇,因美国独立战争在此打响而著名。据2000年统计,人口30355人,面积42.8平方公里。莱克星顿建立于1642年。

Lexington
莱克星顿
The meaning of blue jeans
牛仔裤的意义
 
Denim's history suggests that American attitudes to work are more complex than they seem
牛仔裤的历史表明,美国人对工作的态度比表面上复杂得多。
 
IN AN interview near the end of his career the fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent confessed to a regret: that he had not invented blue jeans. “They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity,” sighed the owlish Frenchman. “All I hope for in my clothes.” American denim-lovers might add other attributes. As far back as the 1930s, when the popularity of cowboy films helped jeans make the leap from workwear into the wardrobes of Hollywood stars, denim has been understood to stand for something larger about the American spirit: for rugged individualism, informality and a classless respect for hard work.
 
在职业生涯接近尾声的一次采访中,时装设计师伊夫·圣-洛朗坦诚了一个遗憾:他没有发明蓝色牛仔裤。“它们有表达力,、性感、简洁,”这位长着一张猫头鹰脸的法国人叹息道。“都是我希望在我的服装中所具备的。”美国的牛仔裤爱好者可能会加上其他一些属性。上溯至上世纪30年代,也就是大受欢迎的西部片帮助牛仔裤工装成为好莱坞明星服饰的年代,牛仔裤就被理解成了代表着大于美国精神的东西:不服输的个人主义,无拘无束和一种部分阶层的对于勤奋工作的尊敬。
 
“Deep down in every American's breast…is a longing for the frontier,” enthused Vogue magazine in 1935, advising readers on how to dress with true “Western chic” (combine jeans with a Stetson hat and “a great free air of Bravado,” it counselled). Levi Strauss & Co., the San Francisco firm which invented modern blue jeans in 1873, saw sales boom after it crafted posters showing denim-clad cowboys toting saddles and kissing cowgirls.
 
“深藏在每一位美国人的内心深处……的是一种对于边疆的渴望。”1925年,《时尚》杂志在指导读者如何穿出真正的“西部品味”(它当时的建议是牛仔裤外加斯泰森毡帽和一种大无畏的冒险精神)时兴奋地谈论道。在1873年发明了当代蓝色牛仔裤的旧金山企业李维·施特劳斯公司,曾在设计出手提马鞍和亲吻女牛仔的牛仔裤牛仔的海报后,见证了销量的大涨。
 
Jump to the 1950s and 1960s, and American consumers learned the heroic history of denim from nationwide magazine and television advertising campaigns. They were told that the tough blue cloth began life as “Serge de Nîmes”, in the French town of that name, and was used by Columbus for his ships' sails, before outfitting the pioneers who tamed the West. In a country so often riven by culture wars, jeans crossed lines of ideology, class, gender and race. Presidents from Jimmy Carter onwards have worn denim when fishing, clearing brush or playing sports to signal their everyman credentials—though Barack Obama has endured mockery for donning capacious jeans that he later conceded were “a little frumpy”.  
 
回到上世纪50、60年代,美国消费者从全国性的杂志和电视广告大战中了知道了牛仔裤的英雄历史。他们被告知,这种结实的蓝色粗布,在装备驯服西部的先驱之前,是作为“尼姆斜纹布”在与之同名的法国城镇开始其声明的,并曾被哥伦布用作船帆。在一个如此经常地被文化战争所撕裂的国家中,牛仔裤打通了意识形态、阶层、性别和种族的界限。从吉米·卡特开始的每一位美国总统都会在钓鱼、修剪灌木或是参加体育活动时穿上牛仔裤,以显示他们的普通人身份——尽管奥巴马曾因为穿着他后来承认“有点邋遢”的肥大牛仔裤而遭到嘲讽。
 
Since the second world war, when GIs and sailors took blue jeans to the Old World and Asia, denim has carried ideas of American liberty around the globe, often leaving governments scrambling to catch up. Emma McClendon, a curator at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York, notes in a fine new book, “Denim: Fashion's Frontier”, that when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, reporters were surprised to see young East Berliners dressed exactly like their cousins from the West—in stonewashed jeans. Ms McClendon's book accompanies a small but splendid exhibition on denim at the FIT on Seventh Avenue.
 
自美国大兵和水手将其带到旧世界和亚洲的第二次世界大战以来,蓝色牛仔裤已将美国的自由思想传遍了全世界,经常使得各国政府为了跟上潮流而手忙脚乱。纽约时尚技术学院(FIT)博物馆馆长爱玛·麦克伦登(Emma McClendon)在《牛仔裤:时尚的先驱者》(Denim: Fashion's Frontier)这本制作精美的新书中指出,当柏林墙在1989年倒塌时,记者们吃惊地发现,东柏林的年轻人穿得与西方同龄人一模一样的——都是身着水洗牛仔裤。麦克伦登的书是与 FIT在第七大道举办的一次小型但杰出的牛仔裤展览一同出现的。
 
The popularity of clothing invented to survive hard labour is of topical interest in America, a country gripped by election-year debates about blue-collar, working-class voters, and whether their interests have been ignored by ruling elites. Ms McClendon argues, persuasively, that much of what Americans think they know about denim draws on a set of “origin myths”, crafted and disseminated by manufacturers over many years, both individually and in campaigns run by the Denim Council, an industry group of clothing-makers and textile mills that was active from 1955-75. The council, whose papers are now in the FIT's archives, was formed after jeans-clad motorcycle gangs and such films as “The Wild One” and “Rebel Without a Cause” led to something like a nationwide panic about denim and its unseemly effects on young bodies and minds. Committees of denim manufacturers and advertising executives set out to combat “anxieties over juvenile delinquency”. Wholesome films about jeans appeared on over 70 television stations, and “How It All Began” cartoons ran in newspapers, tracing the origins of denim back to medieval Europe. From the late 1950s Levi Strauss & Co. ran advertisements and a letter-writing campaign urging schools to allow students to attend classes in denim. Their pitch combined images of clean-cut, studious children in jeans with such slogans as “Right for School”, explains Tracey Panek, Levi's company historian.
 
这种为了承受艰苦劳作而发明的服装的流行,在美国这个被有关蓝领和工薪阶层以及他们的利益是否为精英阶层忽略等讨论所抓住国家,是具有现实意义的。麦克伦登令人信服地指出,美国人自以为自己已经了解的有关牛仔裤的东西,其中的绝大多数都源自一整套由制造商多年单独或是在牛仔裤行业协会这个在1955年-1975年间非常活跃的服装生产和纺织企业工业组织所运作的运动中设计和传播的“起源神话”。如今它的文件就在FIT藏品中的这个行业协会是在身着牛仔裤的摩托车飞车党以及诸如《飞车党》(The Wild One)和《无因的反叛》(Rebel Without a Cause)这类电影导致了一股有关牛仔裤和它们对年轻人的身心的不良影响的全国性恐慌后形成的。当时,牛仔裤制造商协会的会员和广告高管决定打消人们“对少年违法犯罪的焦虑”。一时间,有关牛仔裤的电影出现在了70多个电视频道中,将牛仔裤的起源追溯到了中世纪欧洲的《牛仔裤是怎么来的》的漫画登上了多家报纸。自上世纪50年代末期开始,李维·施特劳斯公司发动了一场广告大战和一场敦促学校允许学生穿牛仔裤上课的写信运动。李维·施特劳斯公司的公司史专家Tracey Panek解释说,他们当年的营销手段就是把身着牛仔裤的干净利落且勤奋学习的孩子的形象和“Right for School”这类口号融合在一起。
 
Quite a lot of this marketing was hokum, or close to it. There is no evidence that Columbus crossed oceans under billowing denim sails, while the latest research is that the term “denim” may have been invented in England. Perhaps most strikingly, relatively few cowboys wore blue jeans at the height of the Wild West, Ms McClendon says: canvas and leather trousers were also common. Denim was mostly worn by small farmers, field-hands, labourers and miners—some of the oldest pieces in the archives of Levi Strauss & Co. were found in disused mines in California and Nevada (there is a whole world of denim-hunters out there, willing to endure much hardship to find a pair of 1880s Levi's).
 
这种营销手段大都是胡扯,或者近似于胡扯。既没有证据证明哥伦布当年是在迎风飘动的牛仔布船帆下横跨大西洋的;同时最新的研究也证实,“牛仔裤”一词可能是在英格兰发明的。麦克伦登女士指出,最突出的一点可能是,在狂野西部的高峰期,只有相对很少的牛仔是穿蓝色牛仔裤的:当时,帆布裤和皮裤也是常见的。牛仔裤主要是被农民、田间采摘者、苦力和矿工穿在身上——在李维·施特劳斯公司的藏品中,一些最早的牛仔裤就是在加利福尼亚州和内华达州的废弃矿井中发现的(那里有众多的为了找到一条19世纪80年代的李维斯牛仔裤而不辞千辛万苦的牛仔裤搜寻者。)
 
The best history money can buy
钱能买到的最好的历史
 
Ms McClendon describes economic and commercial forces at work in the 1930s. Denim sales to working-class customers slumped during the Depression. At the same time ranchers in need of extra income touted their properties as “dude ranches” at which affluent tourists could play at cowboys, apeing favourite film stars. Even Depression-era protectionism arguably played a role: Sandra Comstock, a sociologist at Reed College in Oregon, has written that tariffs on imported French clothing prodded department stores to promote domestic fashions including jeans.
 
麦克伦登描述了上世纪30年代发挥作用的经济和商业力量。对工薪阶层客户的牛仔裤销量曾在大萧条期间一度暴跌。与此同时,亟需额外收入的农场主将其财产吹嘘成富裕的游客能够效仿影星与牛仔同乐的的“度假牧场”。甚至大萧条时代的保护主义也扮演了一个角色:俄勒冈州里德学院的社会学家Sandra Comstock写道,对进口的法国服装的关税曾迫使百货商店去推销包括牛仔裤在内的各种国产服装。
 
Myth-making about jeans suggests a political conclusion, too: that for a supposedly classless country America takes a complicated view of work. Study denim's history and it is hard to avoid concluding that heroic individuals roaming the land, such as cowboys, are easier to sell as fashion icons than folk who toil by the hour in a factory, garage or field, taking orders from a boss. The first gallery at the FIT exhibition shows how the earliest denim clothes were often uniforms: it includes a prison uniform, sailor's overalls and, most tellingly, the sort of blue work-shirt made of chambray (a cousin of denim) that inspired the term “blue-collar worker” back in the 1920s. Yet, other than to a few urban hipsters in recent decades, chambray shirts have mostly lacked the “cross-over cool” of denim jeans, says Fred Dennis, senior curator at the FIT—they did not fit into a “romanticised, cool-dude weekend look”. Small wonder that blue-collar workers feel forgotten.
 
牛仔裤的造神运动还带出一个政治性的结论:对于一个被认为是没有阶层之分的国家来说,美国人对工作的看法是复杂的。研究一下牛仔裤的历史,难以避免得出这样一种结论:像牛仔这样的在这块土地上驰聘的英雄个人要比受命于老板而在工厂、车库或者田间辛苦劳动的人,更容易作为时尚偶像推销出去。FIT展览的第一展厅所展示正是早期的牛仔服装经常是制服这个事实:包括了囚服、水手装等。其中最引人注目的就是那种会让人们回想起上世纪20年代的“蓝领工人”一词的由(牛仔布的近亲)格子花纹布制成的蓝色工装。但是,FIT的高级讲解员弗雷德·丹尼斯说,近几十年来,除了对一部分都市潮人外,格子花纹衬衣已经没有了牛仔裤的“跨界之酷”,它们不适合进入“浪漫帅气的周末装”。蓝领工人觉得自己已被忘记就不足为奇了。