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The History of Blue Jeans

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Woman wearing blue jeans

Woman wearing blue jeans

Origin of Blue Jeans

The fabric used for blue jeans can be traced back to the Middle Ages and Italy. Weavers were attempting to recreate a popular fabric, but they ended up making a fabric we now know as denim. It was considered a medium-quality fabric that could be purchased for a reasonable price. Denim was used for common clothing. Italian sailors from Genoa had denim as part of their uniforms. The denim material could be worn comfortably wet or dry.

Dungaree

Denim jeans soon became an important textile in the 17th century. It was commonly utilized in Northern Italy by working-class people. There are paintings from this time showing scenes of lower-class individuals wearing denim.

The word “dungaree” was mentioned for the first time in the 17th century. It was described as a coarse, thick cotton cloth that was cheap. It was most common for it to be colored blue. Sometimes, though rarely, it could be colored white.

The fabric was known for being worn by poor people in Bombay, India. These were the people from a dockside village known as Dongri. The cloth was then sold as the Hindi word “dungri.” The cloth was manufactured in Dongri and sent to England. It was used to make cheap and useful working clothes. The word “dungri” eventually transformed into “dungaree.”

Invention of Blue Jeans

Blue jeans are made from denim. They are slightly different from dungaree cloth. Both are made from cotton, but blue jeans are woven and then colored. Dungaree fabric is woven from colored yarn. The blue jeans we are familiar with today were invented in 1873 by Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis.

Levi Strauss

Levi Strauss

Levi Strauss

Levi Strauss arrived in New York from Germany in 1851. He initially worked in a dry goods store owned by his brother. The store was considered to be the family business. It was March 1853 when Struss traveled to San Francisco to start a West Coast branch of the company store. This store would be known as Levi Strauss & Co. Wholesale House.

The gold rush had started in the area three years earlier in 1848 and was still going strong. Miners from all over the country would purchase many things for their work. One of the items they valued most was strong clothes that could withstand their difficult working conditions.

Jacob Davis

Jacob Davis

Jacob Davis

There was a tailor in the San Francisco area who worked hard to meet the gold miners' clothing needs. His name was Jacob Davis. He was from Reno, Nevada. Davis would buy many bolts of jeans cloth from the Levi Strauss & Co. Wholesale House. He decided to reinforce the corners of the pockets of the jeans pants with metal rivets. This made the pants much stronger.

Davis tried to patent the idea but couldn't. He didn't have the funds necessary to file all the paperwork. This is the reason he approached Levi Strauss with his idea in 1872. As a result, both of them were on the patent. It was issued on May 20, 1873, from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Levi Strauss then employed Davis to work at his factory and manage the production of the riveted pants.

Blue jean patent application

Blue jean patent application

Long-Term Success

The blue jeans patent held by Strauss and Davis expired in 1890. At this time, Levi Strauss & Co. was the name everyone associated with the blue jeans products. This is when the company introduced a more flexible fabric they called blue denim. Denim jeans would also be made with their rivet concept. This combination would be a major influence on American clothing for more than a century.

Levi 501 blue jeans

Levi 501 blue jeans

Levi's 501 Style

The creation of the well-known Levi's 501 style occurred in 1890. This resulted in denim jeans being thought of as more than something for the working-class demographic. These jeans were popular for everyday casual fashion. People would purchase them when they needed a pair of pants that would last for a long time. The zipper on the men's jeans was down the front. The first women's jeans would have a zipper to the left. Both versions were made to fit loosely as overalls.

James Dean wearing blue jeans

James Dean wearing blue jeans

Blue Jeans Become Fashionable

It was during the 1950s when blue jeans without a bib were considered to be the symbol of youth rebellion. James Dean popularized this style of jeans in his movie “Rebel Without a Cause.” This is the reason they were often banned from being worn in restaurants, schools, theaters, and more.

Blue jeans became acceptable in all elements of society in the 1960s and 1970s. They were considered part of modern fashion. Blue jeans are now worn by people of all ages and genders. Blue jeans are international. It is one of the things people around the world think about when they think of the United States.

Sources

The Origin of Blue Jeans | Smithsonian Magazine

Blue Jeans History – Who Invented Jeans? | History of Jeans

Blue Jeans History: Inventor's Biography | History of Tech

Jeans | Wikipedia

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Readmikenow

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