Denim has been around for a long time, serving many different purposes and styles. How much do you know about the denim you wear every day?
1. The Origin of Denim and Jeans
The word jeans originates from Middle French "jean fustian," fustian being a type of twilled cotton cloth. Although the word originates from the French language, it's debated whether the first jeans were made in the Italian city of Genoa in the 15th century or the town of Nîmes in France. It's most commonly accepted that denim fabric was founded in Nîmes, France while jeans originated in Genoa, Italy. Meanwhile, America started using denim in the 18th century.
2. Why Most Denim Is Colored Blue
Although there was once another similar type of pants known as the duck trouser that was brown, the most common color for denim is blue. The indigo dye used for denim reacts differently than most natural dyes. When the dye is heated and paired with the chemical agent called mordant, the color only binds to the external threads. When the denim is washed, some of the dye is stripped away and takes bits of the thread with it.
3. More Than Just Dyeing
There are many different ways to treat denim. How many of the treatments listed below have you heard of or have in your closet? Here are just a few methods of creating the denim we see today.
Rinse Wash - the basic wash that removes residual dye and prevents color from running. This wash makes denim softer while keeping a clean appearance.
Mid Wash - this wash involves a longer process to remove dye color. Through the process, the denim will be softer than raw denim and have a mid-blue color level.
Stone Wash - denim that is treated to have a worn appearance. The denim is placed in industrial clothes washers that are also filled with large stones that beat into the fibers of the denim.
Acid Wash - a type of stone wash that grew popular in the 80s. To create this wash, pumice stones are soaked in chlorine and are added to the washing process.
Bleach Wash - although simply washing denim with bleach can be considered a bleach wash, the bleach can also be applied through spray or by rubbing by hand.
4. Denim Made From 100% Cotton
The denim weave is one of the strongest and longest-lasting textiles that is formed out of cotton. When cotton is made into denim, the fabric forms a diagonal ribbing pattern. Twill fabric is warp-facing, where the warp yarns are more prominent on the right side. This pattern is what separates denim from other cotton fabrics such as canvas, even though these are sturdy cotton fabrics as well.
Although Denim is commonly made from 100% cotton, that doesn't mean what you're wearing will always just be cotton. Elastic materials such as spandex are often blended into the denim fabric to make your clothes stretchable.
5. Beginnings of Denim Fashion
For a long time, denim was only worn in the working class (miners, railroad workers, laborers). This type of denim was developed in 1873 by Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss. In WWII, Denim became popular because of the American soldiers who wore denim jeans when they were off-duty. Soon denim was being used to create all different kinds of styles, including denim swimsuits in 1958. Different styles of denim designs started growing in the 60s and 70s, which led to a movement of reconsidering denim as high-fashion.
Now you see denim in fashion shows and worn by nearly everyone across the globe.
6. Denim and Sustainability
Although a lot of water is used to produce the cotton used in denim, the durability of denim is great for cutting back on the material waste in the fashion industry. Many companies across the globe are also working to cut back the amount of water and chemicals used to produce their designs. Did you know that it also isn't necessary to wash your denim every time you wear it? Instead, washing it every 3-4 wears cuts down on water usage and preserves your denim for longer. When people choose to buy slow-fashion denim pieces made in the US (like Majority Denim), they also choose to buy denim made in ethically-run businesses.
7. Stigmas with Denim
In the 50s many schools banned a majority of denim for looking inappropriate and rebellious. This viewpoint might in part have something to do with movies such as Rebel Without a Cause and The Wild One. Even recently, schools have created rules against wearing denim with holes. In 2011 George Bush also banned jeans from being worn in the White House.
Today different types of denim continue to cycle in and out of style. In modern times, many companies and schools are lightening up on denim, allowing employees to wear denim once a week or more. Holes and rips are even being allowed in some schools.
At Majority Denim, we make styles fit for all genders. We take care to design pants, jackets, and more that are comfortable for anyone to wear. We also have several styles such as the Erman Jacket that are made using chemical-free treated material. Support locally made, slow-fashion today!
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