Because I’m strapped for cash and owe many people many dollars, I signed up with a company that runs focus groups. I attended my first one last night.
I don’t know the ethical issues surrounding the discussion of said focus group in a public forum, but since no one told me specifically, “Hey, don’t write this in your blog if you happen to have one,” I’ll just continue with the post. But I’ll write in the hypothetical.
So, the topic of the focus group was “jeans.” Like, denim pants. The specific focus was about a major denim label selling customized jeans on their website. That would be great if it meant you could get customized fits if you happen to be someone who has oddly-proportioned body parts. The plan, however, does not include customized fits, but it does give you the option to have different colored buttons, stitching, and rivets! Don’t you want an awesome button on your waistband? How about some studs? Wouldn’t skull-and-crossbones studs be super cool?
The correct answer, of course, is, “No.” Unfortunately, I was the only sane person in the focus group, perhaps because after looking at eighteen varieties of colored buttons I had flashbacks to fifth grade when I got my braces off and had to pick out my bitchin’ new retainer. (Looking back on it, I kind of wish I didn’t pick one with the Batman logo on it.) My contemporaries in modern denim thought included four other young men. There was at least one guy who was not white, and, luckily for the marketing people, he may or may not have been a member of the homosexual demographic. I couldn’t really tell; he was riding the fence between gay and metrosexual. He admitted that he had customized his jeans himself before, “playing around with the stitching and adding some zig-zags.”(When the leader of the group asked us what our “styles” were, he said, “Eclectic. You know, I don’t want to look like a schmuck.”)
The other three guys were just boring old white people. One seemed like he was from a small suburb (you know how you just can’t imagine some people living in a city?) and had a few spare tires in case his ’92 Dodge Ram happened to get a flat on the way home. He was also wearing denim shorts, which are pretty goddamn ugly (They just are, ok? Say no to denim shorts.) as well as not meeting the business casual dress policy I was told to adhere to. (I should have just worn jeans considering we were talking about jeans and no one else seemed to have gotten the memo that we weren’t supposed to dress like we were on our way to Old Navy to pick up some cargo shorts.) Suburb Fattie also kept talking about how he has “work jeans” and then “club jeans,” which made me actually look back at the “people” behind the mirrored wall as if to say, “CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS GUY? I HOPE YOU TAKE THE VIDEO OF OUR GROUP HOME TO SHOW YOUR SPOUSES AND LOVED ONES.”
The third guy was a self-professed musician who does, in fact, keep up with the certain denim trends in “rock and roll.” Surprisingly, he was a big fan of the customized jeans, too. He liked the various colored thread one could pick for the seams. He also liked the idea of having a screen-print design on the inside of the back pocket. “It’s like an inside joke with yourself, you know?” No, my friend, I do not know.
The last guy was so from Boston that I felt like I was at a Kennedy rally and about to get my assed kicked. Beantown shared with the rest of the group that he likes the idea of various-sized pockets since he needs bigger pockets for work to hold his “tools” and smaller pockets when he “goes out.” I wanted to ask him if he would actually spend more money on jeans produced by a certain major fashion denim label when he could just go buy an adequate pair at Target.
And then there was me. I had such negative responses to the first few customized elements that the group leader stopped asking me questions. Since everyone else was throwing out their ideas and how the thought of monogrammed denim is da bomb, I basically sat there for two hours judging everyone. And I got paid for it. It’s my American Dream.