Once upon a time, if your jeans had stains and/or holes in them, this meant it was time to throw them out and buy a new pair of jeans. But today, this probably means you bought them that way. In fact, it is becoming hard to find jeans without at least some type of distressing.
If I were to try to make sense of this strange fashion trend, I would argue that, in the past when jeans cost a lot of money relative to poor people's income, wearing distressed jeans meant you were too poor to afford jeans that were in better condition. But today, using child labor in third world countries, brand new jeans are easily affordable even to the poorest of Americans. So today, the rich people wear distressed jeans because they are more expensive to manufacture. First the jeans have to be manufactured the regular way, then additional labor is required to distress them.
Distressed jeans seem related to untucked shirts. They both display lack of neatness. Dressing neatly is no longer cool. I even heard that's it's now considered dorky if your clothes are ironed. Does anyone know if this is true?