The History of Denim Jeans

The humble blue jean has become a wardrobe staple for many of us, but just how much do we know about it and its’ origins? We at KEEPER Denim have done a lot of research into this and have a new appreciation for the classic wardrobe item. So, let’s go back and look at the evolution of the classic jean and how it became the one that we know and love today:

1800’s

The first jean was invented in the 1800’s and was made from a twill cotton cloth. By the 1900’s the term ‘jean’ was used to describe a wide range of informal cotton/denim trousers. The first blue jean – made from indigo/blue-dyed denim and reinforced with metal hardware (buttons and rivets), was patented in 1873 and typically worn by men as workwear. These pants were unlike anything else before them, the metal hardware to reinforce the front and back pockets – provided extra strength, which was much appreciated by the miners and other labour workers who typically wore them, as they often complained about their pants ripping.

Over the next few decades some design improvements were made to the jean, including belt loops, reinforced stitching on the back pockets and the traditional button fly was replaced with the convenient zipper that is still very common among all styles of jeans today.

1920-1950

Hollywood began to feature the jean in films, making it more popular in society. During this time, famous actresses such as Ginger Rogers were photographed in jeans, showing women that this new style of pant could be worn by them too, a great casual and comfortable pant that could be worn for leisure.

1950-1970

This was when jeans started to become associated with rebellious youths. Rock’n’roll stars wore them making them ‘cool’ and anti-war protesters wore jeans to show their support for the working class and feminists wore them to symbolise their fight for gender equality.

1970-1990

In 1976 Calvin Klein was the first designer to show blue jeans on the runway. Then Brooke Shields and Claudia Schiffer became the face of provocative ad campaigns for Calvin Klein and Guess respectively, which helped to give jeans a seductive appeal, something they had never had before. By the 1990’s well established fashion houses including Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Dior all began to include blue jeans in their seasonal collections.

Today, most luxury labels and high fashion designers have included denim in their runway shows at some point in time. What was once the humble jeans, has now expanded to include a vast variety of different styles, ranging from wide leg, skinny, high-rise, mid-rise, low rise, light denim, dark denim, multiple colours, ripped denim and the list goes on.

Learning about the evolution of the humble blue jean has made us here at KEEPER Denim appreciate it just a little bit more, if that was even possible and we hope it has done the same for you!

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