Once upon a time, jeans were the uniform of the labourer and, more specifically, miners. Now though, you will be hard-pressed to find a single person without a pair of jeans in their wardrobe.
Where did it all start?
The story of jeans started all that way back in 1871 when Jacob W. Davis created them as a specialist in creating ultra-tough materials like horse blankets, tents, and wagon covers made from the material that Levi Strauss & Co.
One day, one of the workers asked if Davis could make him a pair of pants from the materials that Davis had been using – and that material? Heavy-duty ‘duck’ cotton was used along with some copper rivets and reinforced seams.
And if that sounds familiar, it is because not much about jeans has changed since then – except that now they’re worn by everyone – no matter where they work or their position in society.
Levi Strauss saw the demand for the Davis trousers and decided that it was a good idea to open a store to sell to the workers of SanFran. As the Cali Gold Rush started going full steam, more and more miners wanted to have these hardwearing and protective pants.
At this time, the standard pants came with orange stitching, copper rivets, and pockets – when Davis moved to San Francisco, he and Levi put in a patent on May 20, 1873. It was U.S. Patent No. 139,121.
How did jeans become mainstream?
Right up until the 1930s, blue jeans were still worn by workers. And then, in 1950, the world of denim changed. Denim jeans became cool; they became the uniform of Marlon Brando and James Dean – paired with a crisp white t-shirt and a leather jacket. Suddenly – everyone needed jeans, and they needed them now.
And something that might sound wild is that they were banned from schools because they were considered to be anti-establishment – making them even more fashionable.
The 1960s saw patterns, styles, more spicecinemas manufacturers, swinging bell bottoms, embellishments, and jeans were a staple. In fact, double denim was now a thing, and people were embellishing their own jeans too. By the 1970s, jeans were worn by female sex symbols and superstars too – like Daisy Duke and Farrah Fawcett in Charlie’s Angels.
By the ’80s, Calvin Klein put their own spin on them. By the 90s – 2010s, jeans started to be seen in retro styles, and designers were playing with baggy styles, skinny jeans, women’s Daisy Dukes back in fashion, men’s stacked ripped jeans, mom jeans, high-waisted (yes, even for men), tapered and more.
Still Work Wear
Long into the late 1870s, blue jeans were considered the wear of the miners, cowboys, or farmers. It was around now that Levi and Davis took on different roles, Davis focusing on the manufacturing and Levi working with the fabric to create different variations – as well as playing with branding.
And it was in 1880 that Levi stumbled across the bowed line that runs across the back pockets of the jeans. As well as the most recognizable logo in the world – the two horses – still staying true to their roots.
It was also around now that they began to label each type of jeans – including the infamous 501.
Why are jeans here to stay?
Jeans are so common that you will even find them in officers and meeting rooms all over the world. There are so many options and styles that there is something for everyone – not to mention when you invest in high-quality options, you will have your jeans for years to come – they truly are one of the most heard-wearing clothing options around.
With the rise of athleisure, and relaxed luxe, jeans are likely to see another overhaul in the next few years. On this, they will never lose the hardwearing nature and the ingenuity they started with.