“Denim is always about authenticity and tradition with doses of ingenuity and creativity thrown in.”-Erin Barajas, Kingpins Show
Whether you’re 16 or 66, it’s likely you have a pair of blue jeans in your closet. People love jeans. In fact, consumers in America buy more than 450 million pairs of denim per year. It’s likely you may be reading a pair of your favorite jeans as you read this. This utilitarian closet staple has a rich history stemming back to the 1800s, but its history is far from over. Read on, to learn more about the past and future of modern denim.
The history of denim
The history of denim first originates in France when a group of manufacturers was trying to recreate an Italian fabric called serge. The manufacturers were from Nîmes, France and so the material was referred to as serge de Nîmes. “Serge de Nîmes” was ultimately shortened to the phrase denim. And hence, the first origins of the word denim was born. The term “jeans” also has an European origin – it is derived from the word “Gênes” the French name for Genoa, Italy.
While jeans have European origins, they really took off when an American tailor named Jacob Davis and a businessman named Levi Strauss teamed up.
Strauss was original the owner of his own family-run dry goods business called Levi Strauss and Co. In 1872, one of Strauss’s clients named Jacob Davis reached out about an exciting business proposition. Davis had developed a unique technique to create pants for customers by using rivets at points of strain to make them last longer. That special technique created what is known today as denim textiles. Davis wanted to patent this unique technique, and so he reached out to Strauss to patent the textile. On May 20, 1873 Strauss and Davis won the patent and the first modern pair of denim was born. Strauss then eventually transformed that iconic object into a multimillion-dollar empire and a company known as Levi Strauss & Co.
What is denim made of?
The quintessential item of clothing is a pair of denim jeans.
Denim is composed of 100% cotton. The cotton is created using a special weave of cotton that is wrapped and weave meticulously to create a particular weave pattern. This weave pattern forms the diagonal ribbing pattern that you see when you look closely at denim. This weaving pattern makes denim a very durable textile, and because of denim’s durability, it was initially worn by trade and construction workers while on the job. Denim is a breathable, but sturdy piece of material. And the more you wear it and wash it, the more fluffy and comfy your jeans feel.
Note: Since denim is made of 100% cotton, it often shrinks when in hot water. That’s why it’s important to check the label of your denim.
Jeans by the numbers
>> Most consumers have seven pairs of jeans in their closet says Cotton Incorporated
>> More than 70% of denim wearers say they plan to purchase the same amount of jeans this year
>> The jean market produced more than $40 billion globally in 2016 according to Research and Markets
>> Men’s denim is a hot commodity. Men’s denim brought in $27 billion in 2016 and globally men’s denim was the must lucrative denim category.
>> Specialty stores score big: Stores dedicated to selling a specific line, such as Levi ’s and True Religion stores raked in $13 billion in denim sales.
>> Northern love for denim: North American consumers account for 30% of global denim sales. However, it’s projected that the Asia-Pacific region will experience significant growth in the next five years.
Read more about Levi Strauss & Co History here.