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The truth about 'mud jeans,' 'sock sandals' and other wacky fashion items

An odd trend has emerged in the fashion world: the release of items so ridiculous, we can't believe we're expected to take them seriously.
/ Source: TODAY

An odd trend has emerged in the fashion world: the release of items so ridiculous and, in some cases, downright ugly, that we can't possibly believe we're expected to take them seriously.

Nordstrom has been a primary conspirator, recently selling a pair of $425 men’s jeans that appear to have mud splattered on them. And then there was TopShop's release of these "clear panel" jeans and later, an entirely see-through pair.

So what's the deal? Is this all a ruse to get us to shop? The old "get you in the door" tactic? Probably not, experts say.

"I wouldn't call (these items) publicity stunts, because I don't think anyone would manufacture an item specifically for a publicity stunt," fashion trends analyst Charcy Evers told TODAY Style. "I think what it really is, is a trend taken too far. This season in particular is all about revamped denim — taking your average blue jean to the next level through embellishment, embroidery, florals, patches, two-tone and a lot of this cropped and frayed look."

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So perhaps these befuddling jeans are just that: the product of designers’ desire to take a trend and put a new spin on it. Fashion writer Kaarin Vembar pointed out that there actually is some precedent for the styles.

“Some people who are really into getting a specific look on their jeans will bury them,” she told TODAY Style. “This gives a specific color or wash to the jeans via dirt or rain or mud. Thus, mud jeans.”

There are countless online tutorials that teach us how to shred, bleach or otherwise destroy a pair of perfectly good jeans. Perhaps mud isn’t so different?

As for the clear jeans, Vembar points to Calvin Klein’s fall 2017 runway show, which included outerwear with a layer of clear plastic on top.

“The clear jeans evoke something similar,” she said.

Of course, you’re not alone if you still think these particular products miss the mark.

"Do I think they're viable items? Are they something I would advise a designer to design? Absolutely not," Evers said.

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There's also another theory in play here: that in the age of flaunting clothes on social media, the more extreme, the better. That goes for not just jeans, but other wacky products retailers have been peddling lately — from Gucci’s sock sandals to this rock wrapped in leather, both sold by Nordstrom.

"Maybe it's also a product of our Instagram culture, where we're always looking for something new and eye-grabbing to photograph,” Evers said. “Anything to get more likes and more followers.”

Retail analyst Brian Sozzi seconds that theory.

"Believe it or not, it's high fashion," he told TODAY Style. "And a subset of people want to be the first to wear something like this and plaster themselves all over Instagram with themselves in it.”

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Topshop declined to comment when TODAY asked for details about the sales of the clear panel jeans and the clear jeans. Nordstrom has yet to respond to TODAY’s requests for comment.

At the end of the day, experts say it doesn’t matter what the retailers’ intentions were originally. It’s clear they achieved at least one thing. “It gets everyone talking,” Sozzi said. “And gets people visiting a website where they may end up buying something else. All in all, winning.”