One afternoon in 1999, when the designer Shayne Oliver was in the sixth grade, he came across a magazine ad for Dirty Denim, a line of “pre-soiled” jeans by Diesel. The ad featured a collage of faux paparazzi photographs documenting the meltdown of a fictional rock star. Oliver was struck by the campaign’s tagline: “The Luxury of Dirt.” “That blew my mind,” he told me recently. “Spending money on something that looks dirty? I was, like, ‘This is genius.’ ” He informed his mother, a schoolteacher from Trinidad named Anne-Marie, that he needed a pair immediately. Oliver’s father had abandoned Anne-Marie before Shayne was born, and she had struggled to raise him on her own. They lived in a tiny apartment on Halsey Street, in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Oliver, who attended some rough schools—he witnessed knife fights in the halls—was highly intelligent, and Anne-Marie was determined to nurture his gifts. She stood up to people on the street who heckled him because he was effeminate, and fought with school officials who wrote him off as a rowdy black kid. She didn’t have the money for the jeans, which cost three hundred and seventy-five dollars, but she respected Shayne’s sense of urgency. “How are we going to afford Diesel clothes?” she asked herself. She soon began working evenings at the Diesel store at the corner of Sixtieth and Lexington. She got an employee discount, and her kid got his jeans. Read more at The New Yorker.