The history of Jeans and how they ended up in all of our wardrobes
Jeans are undeniably a fashion staple, but that wasn’t always the case while denim had its ups and downs they evolved remarkably throughout time. Let’s read together down the memory line, from the ’50s to the key events that made the jeans we wear today.
Summer is over and time has come for taking our classic vintage jeans from the closet and saying good bye to summer shorts.
When we talk about denim, there’s something for every taste: high-waisted, skinny or flared, boot cut or boyfriend and the list goes on. But have you ever wondered where does this ever-green item come from?
Jeans are undeniably a fashion staple, but that wasn’t always the case. Indeed, jeans had its ups and downs and evolved significantly throughout time. Let’s cover together the most important stages of its history to pay homage to our fav essential piece!
1873: for miners and cowboys
The most recognizable, classic blue jeans as we’ve come to know them – made from indigo-dyed denim with pockets– were born in 1873 by Jacob Davis, a tailor, and Levi Strauss, owner of a wholesale fabric house in San Francisco.
Between 1920 and 1930, blue jeans were perfect for cowboys and miners alike. So, it became a popular Western wear in the United States, worn by male workers who needed sturdy clothing that could withstand heavy wear and tear.
Nobody wore jeans in the street otherwise! They were also very uncomfortable and stiff.
1950′: entering the movie scenes
In the 50’s our dearest jeans started to become so successful to makes its entrance in movies. One of the most famous actor of that period, the one and only James Dean, popularized blue jeans in the movie Rebel Without a Cause in 1955. He wore a simple tee, a leather jacket, and jeans, a “bang” uniform that guys began copying immediately.
Not only JD gave the first hint, but also pop culture bad boys such as Marlon Brando promoted jeans in their films (e.g. The Wild One, 1953), wearing denim as they shook up the squares. This led to blue jeans being banned in some public schools in America, for being too provocative.
1960’s: the era of freelove
In the hippie era of the ’60, made of freelove and youth, the casual blue jeans was embraced: it was seen as a form creative expression and “personalized jeans” was considered very groovy. While in the early 1970s feminists, such as Gloria Steineman – leader and a spokeswoman for the American feminist movement- and women’s lib organisers chose blue jeans as a way to demonstrate gender equity.
Late 70’s: high fashion
By the late 1970s and early 1980s high fashion started to be interested in denim toon to.
Calvin Klein was the first designer in 1976 who showed blue jeans on the runway. Just four years later, a 15 years old Brooke Shields starred in one of the most famous and provocative Calvin Klein commercial saying, “Nothing comes between me and my Calvins,” bringing denim to the forefront of every fashion designer’s mind. Denim fashion changed again in the ‘90s, with the grunge era: in this decade, jeans became more about casual, than something you would wear to dress up in. Carpenter jeans, with multiple pockets, were among the trendier looks, as well as denim overalls which were popular among younger women.
Jeans has become very versatile and it’s definitely our problem-solver when we don’t know what to wear. But, producing a pair of jeans can be really polluting: did you know that it takes 10.000 liters of water to make one pair of jeans?
You can read more about sustainability and the issues with jeans here.
Fortunately, we know that there are organic alternatives to make us avoid all this waste of water.