Who invented the jeans?
In the space of a century, it has become an essential part of our wardrobe. Nowadays, who doesn’t have a pair of jeans in their closet? They come in all colors and sizes. However, this iconic, “pop” and popular garment, originally designed for workers, has not always been unanimously approved.
"It was then used in the manufacture of sails for ships and pants for sailors."
Denim takes its name from a sturdy fabric, made of wool and linen, manufactured in the independent Republic of Genoa in the 18th century. It is then used in the manufacture of sails for ships and pants for sailors. It is the phonetic anglicization of the name of the Italian city that will give the name “jeans”.
"Levi Strauss is seizing on it in order to carve overalls out of the material that he wishes to sell to gold diggers."
Imported to the United States, this fabric is used in the making of clothes worn by slaves on plantations. Around 1850, a young German immigrant by the name of Levi Strauss seized the material to make overalls that he wanted to sell to gold seekers. Bingo! This idea makes his business flourish.
In the 1860s, Strauss replaced the fabric of his garments with a cotton twill weave, an evolution of the Nimes twill in France, from which the name “denim” is derived. It is the use of this fabric dyed of a blue indigo which gives rise to the term “Blue-Jean”.
In 1873, the tailor Jacob Harris thought of adding copper rivets to the seams of the pockets to make this workwear even more robust. Together with Strauss, they filed a patent that gave them a monopoly of the market for the next 20 years. And in 1890, Levi Strauss & Co created its legendary model, the Levi’s 501.
From 1893, upon its lapse of patent rights, other trademarks that are now emblematic of this industry, such as Wrangler and Lee, began to appear. This is the beginning of a never-ending saga!
In the years 1920-1930, the Blue-Jean, brought to the screen in westerns played by John Wayne or Gary Grant, becomes glamorous. From the 1950s onwards, it became the symbol of a rebellious and protesting youth: James Dean gave it sex appeal; rock stars made it cool; hippies who wore it in support of the working class decorated it with handmade embroidery of all colors; while in the 1970s, feminists wore it as a demand for gender equality. Over time, it has permeated all parts of society, to become one of the most worn clothes.