We all have a pair of jeans in our closet. In fact, most of us have many. We need a pair of dark wash, light wash, white, black, distressed, high wasted, low rise, etc. The styles these days are endless and the trends are always changing, bringing us even more denim styles we need to buy to stay stylish. So where did this iconic piece of clothing come from?
Where did it all begin?
Many people would automatically think back to a certain Bavarian-born businessman by the name of Levi Strauss, and those people wouldn’t be wrong! However, there’s a little more to the history than this well-known name.
Jacob Davis, a tailor, was a customer of Levi Strauss’s wholesale dry goods business. Davis was working on making a durable pair of trousers for his clients who were laborers. He came up with the idea to put copper rivets where typical trousers strained to prevent tears but didn’t have the money to patent his idea. So he wrote to his fabric supplier, Strauss, and asked him to help him fund his patent. On May 20th, 1873 their pocket rivet design was patented and they began making the pants, called “waist overalls” or “overalls” (even though they didn’t have the straps we associate overalls today). As you can imagine, the pants were made with blue denim material.
The word denim derives from the French phrase “serge de Nimes” meaning “serge from Nimes.” Serge is a type of fabric woven in a very similar way to cotton denim, and “de Nimes” refers to Nimes, France. The word denim is a shortened version of this phrase (serge de Nimes). It wasn’t till the 19th century, around the time Strauss patented his denim jeans, that Webster Dictionary listed the American version of the word: denim.
During the 19th Century, denim fabric was reserved for work clothes. It was durable and comfortable, which was needed by laborers and was why Strauss and Davis used the fabric for their new product.
At the time Strauss and Davis created their famous pants, synthetic dyes had not yet been introduced. Indigo dye is a natural dye that binds differently than other natural dyes. The dye binds externally to the denim thread, coaxed by a chemical called a mordant, that (in short) makes the fabric softer with each wash.
Also, the indigo dye was cheap and readily available as well as hid stains well.
The word jean also comes from France. The French called Italian sailors from Genoa, known wearing cotton trousers, “Genes.”
As mentioned before, Strauss and Davis’s denim pants were originally called “overalls.” It wasn’t till 1950’s that denim became popular with youth as a sign of teenage rebellion. By the 60’s they had ditched the traditional term “waist overalls,” and adopted the word “jeans.” And it obviously stuck!
Why A.N. Designs?
Simply, A.N. Designs is American-made, great-quality apparel. Our jeans are comfortable, affordable and fashionable, and were voted best fit in 2014 and 2015! See what all the talk is about here.