Dear Gothamist,I bought a pair of $160 jeans while I was on vacation at the end of March at a boutique in Boston. I like designer jeans and I am willing to spend a lot of money on them, but I am a grad student with a part-time job and can afford to buy jeans, like, twice a year as a result. Anyway, last week I was doing karaoke in a divey gay bar and I did a high kick and ripped the whole butt out of my jeans. Since I've had these jeans for less than two months, I think this is total bunk and that I should legitimately get a new pair. However, I don't live in Boston and have no way of getting there. So I was going to exchange them at a famous high-end department store in my city which has a liberal return policy. Is this unethical? I could patch them, but then they would become the jeans I only wear to bars on weekends rather than the jeans I can legitimately wear to work with a cute blazer and heels. I can't really afford another pair right now. Signed, Fashion Victim
You're not going to like this answer, but you actually probably shouldn't return the jeans. You've had them two months and the big rip was caused by an inspired moment of dancing, not any fault with the jeans themselves.
Then again, we've been there. You shell out a lot of money for some new clothes, then you rip them or spill something on them or otherwise render them unwearable and then wave good-bye to your money.
So, if you want to trade in those jeans, you can try a couple of things. First, see if the boutique has a store in New York (or whichever city you live in). If no, give the store a call. Some stores will do returns through the mail. If you're asking from an ethical perspective, this is probably the best option; call the store you bought the jeans from, explain the situation, see if they'll take the jeans back or give you a refund.
You can try your idea of returning the jeans at a store with a liberal return policy, but the retail employees in the audience are already rolling their eyes. To begin with, it's not really fair to the store, who would lose money. You can try it, of course - a store with a liberal return policy runs the risk of having people abuse it.
Since you asked if it was ethical, though, we say no. We had broke college days, too, so we understand; call the store you bought the jeans from and see if you can get your money back. Otherwise, it's time to kick the designer jeans habit.