Denim is a fabric made from cotton and has a unique diagonal cross pattern that is the result of the twill weave with which it is created. It is this crisscross ribbing that makes denim a different type of fabric from canvas, which is also a woven fabric made from cotton.
A brief history of jeans
Denim was originally produced in France, in the city of Nimes, which is partly from where the name denim comes from. It wasn’t until the Gold Rush in the 1850’s in the United States that denim started becoming popular due to the opening of a certain store in San Francisco. The store was opened by Levi Strauss who sold various products including canvassing for tents.
He then started to produce pants made from the denim material, with large sized pockets, which were to be used for storing the gold that prospectors would find.
The famous copper rivets were soon added to the corners of the pockets and the seam to make them stronger. These rivets were actually the result of a collaboration with Jacob Davies, who was a customer of Strauss, and together they patented their durable pants and started marketing and producing them.
It was on 20 May 1873 that they obtained their patent for blue jeans, and the day has since become the birthday of our favorite piece of denim clothing. Though he was actually the creator of the Levi’s brand, Strauss never actually wore his own jeans, as at the time, they were considered to be clothing for the poor, and he was a wealthy and successful businessman.
Jeans as we know them today
Jeans have been a staple part of fashion for the last 70 years or so. They became popular during the Second World War as a lot of American soldiers were wearing them when they were off-duty. In 1957, Levi actually created a pair of jeans called Elvis Presley Jeans which were worn by the King himself in Jailhouse Rock.
It was during the 1960’s that they became extremely popular with the younger generation, and were seen as a sign of rebellion. Actors such as James Dean and Marlon Brando both played a role in the popularity of this new type of fashion.
Today jeans come in a huge variety of styles and colours, and are made by lots of different designers including Freddy. Originally, the main styles were boot cut and baggy jeans in various shades of blue. Nowadays, a lot of people prefer to wear skinny, tight fitting jeans in many different colours, other than the original blue denim look.
The use of denim isn’t just restricted to pants. You can find a whole range of other clothing items made from denim including shirts, waistcoats and jackets. In 1958, you could even find denim swimsuits, though these are now obviously made from different fabrics.
The types of denim wash
Denim jeans come in a variety of styles, and the appearance is down to how they are treated. Rinse wash was the standard washing process that removed the access residual dye that was used for the coloring, and also prevented the color from running. This type of wash keeps the denim softer when washing it.
The jeans you’ll see with a worn appearance are stone wash jeans. This is created by the denim being washed in large scale industrial machines along with large rocks that pounded into the jean fibers. Nowadays there are other ways in which the worn out or distressed look can be achieved, but back in the day, this is what stone washed jeans were all about.
During the 1980s, two of the popular types of jean wash that hit the mainstream market, were acid and bleach wash jeans. For the acid wash look, the washing process involved pumice stones that were drenched in chlorine, while for the bleach wash look, bleach was either applied by hand or sprayed on the denim.
Even though there are so many different styles and colours available today when it comes to jeans, the classic look is still the light blue colour. You can also get dark blue jeans, which are also popular, but it’s the original Levi 501 colour of jeans that are still the top seller around the world.
The popularity of jeans
It’s no understatement to say that literally everyone has owned a pair of jeans at one point in our lives. For many people, it’s a part of their regular attire. For others, it’s more of a weekend choice of clothing, as many people will have to be formally dressed during working hours.
It is said that in the United States, the average person owns 7 pairs of jeans. In fact, it is estimated that in the United States, more than 450 million pairs of jeans are sold each and every year. What makes them so popular are a number of factors.
One is that they are very comfortable to wear. There is a unique softness and comfort to a good pair of jeans, something that no other type of pants can rival. They are also very durable and can last you for years.
Even if you accidentally rip a section, or they start wearing out at the knees, then you are simply now the proud owner of a distressed pair of jeans. Another great thing about denim is that you don’t need to wash it often at all.
Some types of clothing needs to be washed every time you wear it. Jeans are the complete opposite. In fact, some people will go months, if not years, without washing their jeans. This will obviously depend on just how often they are being worn. If you are wearing your jeans and have spilt coffee all over them, then they are certainly going to need to be cleaned. Otherwise, there is no real need to wash them too often.
Some final thoughts
Jeans are a part of our everyday lives, and something that will always be around. Though designs, cuts and styles come and go, jeans as clothing will always be with us.
Whether you prefer a pair of boot cut jeans, or a pair of tight skinny jeans, they are a piece of clothing that offer comfort, durability and style. The world would certainly be a poorer place if Levi Strauss hadn’t created that first pair of jeans 150 years ago.