The History of Denim
The History of Denim Fabric
The word “denim” comes from the fabric originally called "Serge de Nimes." This material was made in the France city of Nimes. It's believed that denim has been around as early as the 15th century, though this date is sometimes pushed to as late as the 17th century.
Denim wasn't always used to make jeans. The sturdier denim, known as Bull Denim, was (and often still is) used to create upholstery as well as sails.
Since the 18th century, denim has been used in America. The original denim was dyed with indigo dye from the plant Indigofera Tinctoria. Modern denim is dyed with synthetic indigo, usually a combination of chemicals. Denim was also often dyed olive or brown as well as it's well-known blue color.
Before long the cotton to make denim was used to create a variety of different pieces of clothing: jackets, pants, and more!
The Birth of Denim Jeans
Jeans come from the word "Genes" which is a French word used by the people of Genoa where the cotton was first turned into pants.
In the earliest manufacturing of denim jeans, the clothes were often worn by workers. By the 1800s, American Miners needed strong, long-lasting clothes to aid them in mining during the Gold Rush. Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis paired up and supplied jeans for these miners.
According to Levi Strauss' website, "One day the wife of a local laborer asked Jacob to make a pair of pants for her husband that wouldn’t fall apart. Jacob tried to think of a way to strengthen his trousers and came up with the idea to put metal rivets at points of strain, like pocket corners and the base of the button fly."
About 100 years later, other companies such as Lee and Wrangler would also create their own denim line. Until then, jeans were often only seen as worker clothes.
However in 1930s, Hollywood cowboy movies popularized wearing jeans. During WWII, American soldiers also influenced denim popularity as they would often wear jeans in their time of leave. In the 1950s, denim was worn by teens in what was often referred to as an "act of rebellion." Some schools and businesses even banned the wearing of jeans because it was seen as unprofessional.
By the 1980s, denim was being worn by a variety of different groups of people including folk and punk rock singers. Designer and premium denim was finally becoming a mainstream idea. Many different styles of denim were being produced such as acid wash jeans, skinny jeans, and denim shirts.
The Future of Denim
Now there are hundreds of fits and styles of denim. There are also an unlimited number of colors and designs for anyone to find their unique look. A major issue that is being discussed in the denim industry is sustainability and ethical practices. Everything from the dye to the common leather patches are being examined and redesigned to suit a community of people who want more ethical clothes.
What part about the history of denim were you surprised about? And what's your favorite style of denim? Comment below to share your story!