Endless Denim Fever

On average, Europeans buy one and a half pairs of jeans a year, while Americans buy four. Jeans have gone from rough workwear to fashion staples, and age has only adorned them. Close acquaintance with the denim theme.

Jeans are both a cult object (among people who call themselves denim heads and refuse to wash them) and in mass demand. People treat these modest pants in a special way. “It's very personal because each pair of jeans is dyed differently… As you wear them, they seem to take on a personality of their own, with your own personalized wear pattern. Over time, jeans fit your figure and become unique, ”says Kara Nicholas. She works for Cone Denim, one of the historic denim manufacturers.

Cone Denim's White Oak factory in Greensboro, North Carolina, USA, turned 110 on April 20. All of the brand's aged jeans are made here, as well as a collection of American Draper X3 shuttle looms from the 1940s.

Nicholas' fascination with authentic denim began in the 1980s. “Then people began to collect vintage jeans, and the idea arose to imitate or recreate the original designs. We sampled turn-of-the-century jeans and experimented with raw materials as well as different paint formulations,” she explains.

Since the second half of the 20th century, jeans have been firmly established in the fashion wardrobe - from navy blue rockabilly tucked trousers to bell-bottoms and timeless skinnies (it is believed that French designer Hedi Slimane introduced them into fashion in the early 2000s). -x, being the chief designer of Dior Homme). However, the origin of jeans is purely utilitarian.

One of the creators of blue jeans, which appeared in 1873 in the wake of the California gold rush - a couple of decades after its heyday, is Levi Strauss. The Levi's website tells the story of Strauss, a Bavarian who moved from New York to San Francisco in 1853 to wholesale fabrics and haberdashery. His client, tailor Jacob Davies, was looking for a business partner to patent a trouser design with rivets at the highest points of tension so they last longer. A patent for studded men's work trousers was issued to Jacob Davis in association with Levi Strauss & Company May 20, 1873. This day is considered the date of the birth of blue jeans and a new category of workwear.

According to Levi's, the first blue jeans—originally called the XX "waist length jumpsuit"—had one back pocket with arch stitching, a watch pocket, a pull tab, buttons for suspenders, and a copper rivet between the legs.

Choosing blue jeans

It is claimed that the main material for their production - denim - comes from the French city of Nimes. Its name is an American-style phrase Serge de Nîmes (that is, a twill from Nîmes). Denim is characterized by the interweaving of indigo-colored warp threads with undyed weft (stuffing) threads. This durable cotton twill fabric was used in the 19th century to make trousers worn by sailors from Genoa, Italy. It is believed that these trousers were the forerunners of jeans, and the word "jeans" is supposedly derived from the French name for Genoa - Gênes.

Wide Leg

The slogan was "Real Blue Denim Studded Workwear". As a distinctive sign - Levi's "Two Horses" leather rectangle, which appeared in 1886. It features jeans stretched between two workhorses as a symbol of strength. In 1890, the model called XX, which later became the uniform of horse herdsmen in the Wild West, was assigned batch number 501. A variant with two back pockets appeared in 1901, and belt loops were added in 1922. In 1936, a red tag was sewn onto the right back pocket of the trousers: according to Levi's, it was needed to "distinguish Levi's overalls from competitors' products, which used dark denim and arched stitching."

Hollywood Westerns sparked an interest in cowboys in the 1930s, and blue jeans became the go-to outfit for the masses in the 1930s, then entered youth culture in the 1950s under the influence of Hollywood denim-wearing rebels like James Dean. It is believed that teenagers began to use the word "jeans" in the same decade, but it was not until 1960 that Levi's replaced the term "overalls" with "jeans" in advertising and on packaging.

The first television ad for Levi's jeans aired in 1966, and the women's 501, which was washed to fit, appeared in 1981. The legendary “Travis” advertisement was shot for her (this name is pronounced by the heroine at the end of the video).

In the modern history of jeans, a new turn happened: Japanese denim became a cult - with an uncut edge, the so-called "selvedge". It is made on traditional shuttle machines: the result is a narrow strip of fabric that does not need to be cut and overlocked. The material used is 100% cotton, the dyeing is done exclusively with natural indigo dye. American manufacturers abandoned such machines in favor of cheaper "wide machine" production.


The pragmatic roots of denim were due to its strength and longevity, and the appearance of fundamentally new stretchy fibers paved the way for jeans in a fashionable wardrobe. The peak came in the 2000s - the era of jeggings (a hybrid of jeans and leggings). The invention of a synthetic fiber called "spandex" has expanded the range of possibilities, agrees Cara Nicholas of Cone Denim. The use of eco-friendly and high-tech fibers, an attempt to make fashion functional, also played a role, she says.

Cone Denim is partnering with fiber and yarn manufacturers such as Invista to drive this kind of innovation. A recent example is a collaboration with Unifi, whose Repreve technology (fiber from recycled plastic bottles) was used to create Cone Touch. “They use a special spinning method that feels and looks like cotton yarn, but in terms of strength and other qualities, this material is in no way inferior to synthetic fibers,” says Nicholas. “The idea is that all the innovations associated with sustainability and high technology do not prevent jeans from looking and wearing like they are made from cotton denim.”

Jeanologia in the Spanish city of Valencia, which specializes in industrial laser equipment, was one of the first to use environmentally friendly technology to create the effect of worn jeans and finish them, which are among the most environmentally harmful operations in the textile industry. The products of this company are sold as "real denim, the production of which takes only a couple of hours."

“They say jeans have a soul and become a part of us because everyone wears their jeans in their own way. When we go to a denim store, we subconsciously search for the equivalent of an old favorite pair of jeans,” says Enrique Silha, director of Jeanologia. He believes that the current textile industry uses "prehistoric" methods when it comes to applying water and chemicals. According to Silya, such inventions can breathe new life into an industry that needs to be reformed. He claims that 20% of denim manufacturers are already using his company's technologies.

More than five billion jeans are produced a year: on average, Europeans buy one and a half pairs of jeans a year, and Americans four, and soon “the average inhabitant of the Earth will have a pair of jeans a year,” Enrique Silha is sure. Back to the future is the slogan of the denim industry: the very first blue jeans are still a source of inspiration for it.

Source: Katya Forman, BBC, UK