When and how was denim created?
Denim as we know it was never created but evolved and still does today over time. During the 1600’s historians believe the French made garments using wool-blended fabrics called “serge de nimes”. Around the same time, Italians produced apparel from a fabric called “genes” supposedly named after the city of Genoa. Both were natural indigo twill fabrics.
When was denim first made using only cotton fiber?
Historians differ on this matter and there is no definitive answer. During the 18th century is about as accurate as we can get.
Who made the first pair of jeans?
Levi Strauss historian Lynn Downey claims Mr. Levi Strauss “was the inventor of the quintessentially American and now global garment.”
Was denim just used for strong work wear garments?
Absolutely. Levi Strauss made durable garments for gold miners fusing rivets for reinformcemetns. Lee Jeans made overalls for mechanics who painted to protect their good clothes.
What happened to make jeans so popular worldwide?
Denim jeans blasted onto the international consciousness after the release of two moves, the Wild Ones (1953) starring Marlon Brando, and Rebel without a Cause (1955) starring James Dean. In both movies, the rebellious young protagonists wore blue jeans, black leather jackets and tight white t-shirts. The stars of these films became sex symbols.
This young non nonconformist image attracted youth all over the world. Who were struggling to define their own role in society? Jeans became a universal symbol and expression of individulism as did the t-shirt and leather jacket.
By the mid 1960’s youthful rebels on motorcycles morphed into long hair-haired hippies in the tie-dyed t-shirts and bleached faded or patched denim jeans. Girls wore many of the same boy’s cloths because there were no women’s jeans available on the market. Buying jeans was not easy in the late 1960’s. In Toronto where we grew up, the only place you could buy them was downtown in the equestrian shop named Thrifty’s where saddles, bridles, boots, and riding hats were available. As were jeans. Thrifty’s noticed customers coming to their store who were not even slightly interested in horses, just to buy jeans, so they started to carry Levi Red Tab products in all sizes. IN those days styles were few but sizes were unlimited. At the time this writer was a size 27 waist and 32 inch inseam. Thrifty’s carried every single size.
Gaps story is similar to Thrifty’s by offering an unlimited size range they turned themselves into a national retail phenomenon.
Jeans in those days were unwashed and Levi marketed their products as “shrink to Fit” which an accurate description of their products. Shrinkage was high and we’d always have to “guess” the shrinkage and buy jeans larger than our actual size. Then we’d take our jeans home and wash them, usually by wearing then into a shower and sure enough they shrunk. Sometimes excessively, sometimes perfect, in those days there were no returns. We just had to guess the right size and be lucky.
AS a retail store like Thrifty’s in Canada of the Gap in The USA or Miller’s outpost became famous, they expanded their concepts throughout the country, while Levi expanded across the world. And in every region Levi arrived, denim mills were built to support their new activity.
In those days, demand was so high it was even difficult to find enough indigo dyestuff which is why in some vintage stores you can find other shades of blue that don’t fade, Substituting indigo, denim makers used sulfur or pad azoic dyes because real indigo was simply not adequately available.
And in the late 70’s and 80’s what happened?
Disco and Harold Melvyn arrived in the mid 70’s. Jeans flipped from being symbols of freedom and rebellion to status symbols. Girls jeans were tight fitting, fabrics were dark and Gloria Vanderbilt introduced skinny stretch black denim jeans. And in clubs, “designer” jeans had wild designs on back pockets, and were marketed by unrestricted sex appeal, the most famous brands being Calvin Klein, Jordache, and Sassoon.