Almost everyone owns a pair of blue jeans. This versatile piece of clothing has evolved constantly over the years but has never gone out of fashion. People from every walk of life own a pair of jeans; from a businessman to a Hollywood star. It is a complex piece of clothing and bonds with the wearer; like they say as a pair of jeans grows older, they get better. But this piece of clothing was not just a simple piece of clothing, it comes from a convoluted background, which consists of history and entrepreneurial spirit.
Let’s track it down from where it all begins.
Levi Strauss was a Bavarian immigrant and a merchant based in San Francisco in the year 1853. During this time the miners and farmers needed rigid clothing for work as their cotton trousers were wearing out. They needed tough clothes that could take their workload. Strauss’s client Jacob Davis approached him, with the idea of ‘jeans’, a sturdy cloth with copper rivets at the sides, as well as the pockets to hold the jeans together.
This idea was a great hit as people could work comfortably without the fear of wearing their pants out. However, during this time these pants weren’t even called jeans, they were called ‘overalls’, women at this time didn’t wear them and nor were they considered to be a fashionable item.
The main fabric of the garment is ‘denim’, robust cotton twill fabric was used, to which a few drops of natural indigo colour was added to give colour to this fabric. These days the colour is synthetically produced.
Jeans became a mainstream item, not until the 1930’s. The cowboy style influenced Hollywood and became a trend by 1950’s. it was in the 1960’s that Strauss replaced the term ‘overalls’ with the term ‘jeans’. The French word ‘Gênes’ is said to have inspired the word ‘jeans’.
In the 1930’s Vogue magazine featured a model on their cover wearing blue jeans, hinting that perhaps this piece of clothing could be a fashion revelation.
Pop culture, as well as youth icons, embraced jeans during 1950s, they were considered to be rebellious clothing and gave somewhat a ‘bad boy’ charm. Black jeans, light washes and brands like Levi’s, Lee Cooper, Wrangler were the most popular ones.
Women did not even start wearing denim by then, denim was introduced for women later when Levi’s Strauss launched a commercial with women showcasing denim.
” Wearing jeans soon became a ‘statement’, and the lifestyle of the original wearers like coal miners and cowboys helped create the rugged identity we are all familiar with today. With movie stars like James Dean popularizing the look on silver screen, blue jeans entered the fashion world by the 50’s.” says Charumathy Murali, designer at Spykar jeans.
Jeans were an American creation. Indians’ pride themselves on ‘sarees’, Japanese pride themselves for their ‘kimono’, Americans’ have ‘jeans’. They started the whole fad, and this fad hasn’t stopped growing ever since.
1960s was the age of the hippie jeans when, America followed the youthful culture, this was the age of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and elaborate fashion. Jeans were a big hit! Jeans were embroidered, rhinestones were sewed on, with colorful flares at the bottom.
In 1960s blue jeans became a part of women’s fashion.
“The 60s and 70s saw jeans define the casual look of the youth revolution. Bell bottoms came with beads and embroidery and helped define The Summer of Love.” Insights from Charumathy Murali, designer at Spykar jeans.
This was the age of bell bottoms and colourful belts. Bell bottoms came in all sizes, colours and prints. Bell bottoms were long enough to reach the floor and as the name suggests, they were wide open in the bottom and were body-hugging from the waist till the thighs.
American sailors were one of the first people who sported this fashion during the 19th century, it is believed that bell bottoms made it easier for them to work during sailing. Denim skirts and denim vests were two other denim items that gained popularity during the 1970’s.
People like Cher, Jimi Hendrix, Mick Jagger all made television appearances wearing bell bottoms which popularised this trend furthermore. Music played an important role in popularising this trend, ABBA and bands like Slade wore bell bottoms while performing or while accepting awards on stage.
Now the 80s was not the time for the people who liked to keep it simple. It was the time for funky colours, weird and elaborate trends, colourful eye makeup, a lot of accessorising and high-waisted jeans. High-waisted jeans were designed to sit almost 2-3 inches above the navel. They were in fashion until the hip-hop culture came into play during 1990’s.
Teenagers used to wear a lot of high waisted pants from Levi’s during the 80’s. This was the age of designer denim, now big brands like ‘Calvin Klein’ had started manufacturing their own line of jeans.
Tv shows or daily soap operas lent a major hand in popularising certain types of jeans. For instance, the TV show Friends popularised ‘mom jeans’ and that was the very trend during the 90’s.
Mom jeans looked like you had borrowed a pair of jeans from your mother just like the name suggests. It was baggy and loose and was either mid-rise or high waisted.
Tv shows like ‘Beverly Hills 90210’ also played a major role in popularising these types of jeans. Everyone preferred the loose fit over the tight one. high-waisted shorts were also popular during this age.
This was the age of low-rise jeans. Now, these jeans turned the tables as they were 3 inches below the navel just like the opposite of high waisted jeans. Actresses and singers like Britneys’ Spears popularised these jeans and started a frenzy of them. ” The clean minimalism of the 90s came next, followed by the baggy denim excesses of the 2000s. In the last decade or so, denim has undergone multiple reinventions, growing into a massive industry spread across borders and occupying a unique place in everyone’s wardrobe. With innovative washes and experiments, the world of denim has expanded to become more than just a fashion staple. It has become a way of life.” Says Charumathy Murali. Many leading brands manufacture jeans on a large scale now; specially curated styles, with prices of all ranges available. Spykar is one of those brands that launch and come up with new ideas’ every season to keep their customers’ engaged and wanting more.
(The age of revival and new ideas’)
The past 20 years can easily be called the age of revival as it is a complex mixture of all the trends that have been in fashion since the 50’s, the rebirth of several denim trends and the birth of new trends.
“Denim trends today have taken a life of their own, changing each season. With the Internet and ease of travel increasing, cultures and identities are merging. Patches, embroidery and patterns give classic blue jeans a global twist. There is an increased value placed on customization, DIY surface details and unique washes. Brands like Spykar are tapping into the young creative energy by releasing an exclusive range of denim featuring one-of-a-kind doodles and artsy jeans says Charumathy Murali.
Presently Gucci’s “Genius Jeans” are cited as the world’s most expensive pair by Guinness World Records. As I have already mentioned early in this post that even Gucci’s standard pair of jeans is available at minimum price of $600.
The brand had made a stir back in 1998, when they debuted their distressed and ripped jeans at an astonishing price for $3,134. Today the fashion house is certainly the denim world, when it comes to high end jeans.
Skinny Fit Jeans
Skinny fit jeans were first introduced to men’s fashion in 2008, then they were introduced to women’s fashion in the 2010’s. They continued to enter mainstream fashion till 2011. This trend has been so popularised that skinny fit jeans need to be a wardrobe essential in the current day scenario.
The revival of mom jeans birth of dad jeans
The trend was brought back to life by people of all ages. Men started wearing dad jeans which are just a baggier version jean and avoided the whole skinny fit fad. Women showcased the same; a baggier version of jeans.
The distressed/torn jeans revelation.
During the heavy metal era i.e. in 1980’s-1990’s people witnessed the beginning of torn jeans, but this trend soon died down, it did not cause a buzz, until it swept across like a Tsunami during the 2010’s. Every actor, every singer, every teenager owned a pair of ripped jeans.
It is a must-have. First popularised in women fashion and then slowly entering the world of men’s fashion. Ripped jeans are a revelation.
The revival of overalls, shorts and jackets.
Denim overalls paired with crop tops or tight-fitting tee shirts became one of the popular fad’s recently, presenting the 60’s vibes mixed with the latest fashion. Fads like the denim jacket, denim shorts, distressed denim shorts became popular very recently as well.
Denim is an ever-evolving, ever-morphing material, and people come up with new ways of transforming this woven coloured yarn in different materials. This American invention will keep changing in due course of time but will never go out of style.
The revival of high-waist
Skinny fit jeans with a high waist; a mixture of the present and the revival of the 80’s fashion. This trend was stunning.
Bootleg jeans were influenced by the trousers worn by sailors, they were popular during the 1980’s. They were designed to be straight from the waist till the bottom, and just tad bit wider at the ankles. Bootleg jeans are popularly worn by men, they aren’t a part of women’s fashion, they were rarely sported by women.