CommerNewal is an investigation testing my premise that we are drawn to objects battered and worn, that the marks of the lived experience enrich and enliven. I examined the retail marketplace for goods that are manufactured to look old: that is, merchandise that in its production is subjected to processes that either accelerate aging and wear or simulate their appearance. In either case such products are new but made to appear old, seasoned, storied.

I found that in the marketplace there is clearly an economic value to marks of use and wear: consumers pay willingly for the (simulated or forced) appearance of age and use. The technology of distressing becomes a product feature, a selling point: catalogues contain detailed descriptions of how these products are sand-blasted, acid washed, roughed up. The appearance of a lived experience, an intimate history, adds value for the consumer. Like naturally occurring layered histories, the fabricated history is vague, the details left out, so the completion of the narrative is left to the imagination of the viewer. The fabricated history is not meant to be mistaken for the real thing but is sufficient in itself.

These are new jeans, manufactured to look old and worn. The illusion is so convincing, they are indistinguishable from the real thing. Two of the pairs of jeans shown are authentically worn (by me); the rest I collected from retail catalogues. Try and spot the genuine articles.