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.
Jeans are that one piece of clothing that you can find on everyone’s closet. Not only are they timeless but there are options for every kind of style: high-waisted, skinny or flared, boot cut or boyfriend and the list goes on. But even though they are so popular, there are so many questions that we have about them: when were jeansf invented? who invented jeans? and, are jeans sustainable?
Jeans are undeniably a fashion staple, but that wasn’t always the case. Indeed, jeans had its ups and downs before becoming the one essential item that we all know and love.
1873: for miners and cowboys only
So…who invented jeans?
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.
Nonetheless, jeans were a no-go on the streets. Not only were they thought to be completely unfashionable, they were also very harsh and stiff.
1950s: the new hot topic in town
You might be wondering now: when did jeans become popular?
Well, as time went by, jeans started to slowly grow on people, finally convincing everyone of their stylish potential once they debuted in movies during the 1950s. 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, which soon after became a hit in men’s fashion.
Even though James Dean took the first step the first hint, many other pop culture icons jumped in the bandwagon as well. Marlon Brando, for example, 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.
1960s: jeans as a way of self-expression
The 1960s are well-known for the hippie era– a time characterized by love, youth, and self-expression. During this time, jeans became the perfect clothing item to embrace this era; they were seen as a form creative expression, and people would artistically customize theirs so that they would fit their styles.
1970s: feminism rebels through jeans
Later on, in the early 1970s, feminists such as Gloria Steinem – leader and a spokeswoman for the American feminist movement – and women’s lib organisers chose blue jeans as a way to demonstrate gender equity. Due to the fact that they had originally been created for men, feminists used them as a way to rebel against the status-quo.
Late 80s: Me and My Calvins
A century after its invention, jeans were finally embraced by high fashion.
Calvin Klein was the first designer in 1976 who showed blue jeans on the runway. Just four years later, 15 year old actress 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.
1990s: back to the basics
Denim fashion changed again in the 1990s: in this decade, jeans became more about being 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.
But now that time has gone by, and everyday we become more and more aware of the repercussions that the fashion industry has on the environment, we cannot help but wonder…
Are jeans sustainable?
As you can tell, jeans have become a solid staple in everyone’s closet. And because of this, it is very important to know the effect that they have on the environment.
Unfortunately, denim can be quite water thirsty: it takes about 1,500 liters (that’s roughly 396 gallons) of water to produce a single pair of jeans! And with the high demand for them, you can imagine how much water waste occurs due to them.
Luckily for you, we have so many sustainable options on Renoon that will come in handy when you have the need to go denim shopping.
Here are some of our favorite brands:
- Before we dive into the brands, we wanted to remind you that you can always try second-hand! It’s not only a better way to reduce overproduction, but you would be giving a new life to an old item:
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