THE HISTORY OF DENIMApril 23, 2013
Denim Denim Denim, we’re all about Denim right now at Urban Outfitters. With the likes of brands BDG, Dr Denim, Cheap Monday, Silence and Noise, Edwin and Indigo & Maine dropping a whole range of fits and styles to put on your pins, we take a look into the history of this versatile fabric and observe its story throughout the trend eras. Scroll down for an Urban history lesson…
The Denim story begins in Europe, originally a fabric worn by Italian sailors created in the cotton city of Genoa. The French town of Nîmes discovered the Italian material and decided to replicate it for themselves. They failed, but what was created went by the name “de Nîmes”. Join up the words and you have the very beginning, but it wasn’t Europe to pioneer the production of Jeans. No No, lets leap over the pond to old America where it all kicked off.
Denim enters in the commercial scene in in 1872 from a partnership between one Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis, a duo from San Francisco who laid down the first patents on hardening Denim for the working man. Strong seams and the natural strength of the fabric was a major deal for ranch owners and gold miners alike. Although Denim manufactures were present in local industries, Levi was the jean of choice. Practical fashion ya’ll…
Skip to the 30s.
Yeehaa! The decade of the cowboy. With Hollywood producing Westerns by the dozen, the dusty Denim look boomed. Playing upon the fabled tales of old 1800s America, John Wayne galloped about wooing ladies, beating down corrupt sheriffs, wooing more ladies, and generally being a total bad man. It’s no wonder early fashionistas had to be seen in Denim, the forever-popular Levi 501 becoming a household name in the Denim world.
With World War 2 in full force, Denim took a breather from production. The old blue found fame with American troops donning jeans in their spare time, seen by all with their eye on the news. Levi dominated the jean scene before the war, but soon after strong competition formed with companies Lee and Wrangler.
Denim becomes the fabric of youth during the rebellious 50s. Complimented by leather jackets and youthful attitude, films such as “Rebel without a cause” say a whole-lot about this era. Jean companies rival for commercial success and Denim becomes the word on fresh and hip lips. Idols include the far too handsome James Dean…
One word. Flares. This generation might well have experimented with everything, but most importantly Denim. Adapting the classic feel with flares, patterns, embroidery, and whatever else the damn well wanted, this free loving bunch made bottoms perfect for floating around fields. The 70s saw much of the same, turning up the notch with disco style and platform shoes.
Ah the 80s, a mish-mash of varying cultural happenings. Let’s ignore the leg warmers, dodgy haircuts, synth-pop and Adam and The Ant for now, the 80s Denim look was all about skin tight shapes, tiny Denim jackets, acid wash and dodgy dance moves. High-end brands adopted Denim into their catwalk style by force. If you didn’t own a pair of skinny jeans, you just weren’t cool.
The decade of the Denim dive! With a youth growing wary of how cool the blue stuff really was (its not trendy if your parents are wearing it) Denim took a back seat in the fashion game. Loud prints, poppers, tracky bottoms, khaki and whatever else the kids could get their hands on prevailed throughout the trends. All but one niche held on to the blue, the rising scene on 90s Hip-Hop adopting the classic baggy below the arse look, holding Denim tight on the cusp of disappearing. Oh and a few select American TV shows helped too…
The Right Now.
The right now is all about Denim, especially here at Urban. A whole range of different fits and styles wait to find a new home on your legs. Go on. Get that Denim look!