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Discovering jeans: history and role in the society

Jeans are with no doubt the only one item of clothing that is present in everyone’s closet.

Comfortable, resistant and suitable for every occasion. But how much do we know of the history of this material? How has been created? Who was the first one to use it?

If you have no idea of the answers to these questions, don’t worry, you are in the right place.

In this article we want to examine in depth the history of jeans.

Follow us and we’ll discover anything there is to know about the casual icon of clothing.

Jeans Rigenerato Rifò crawford-jolly-1161508-unsplash

What is jeans?

Before entering into jeans history I want to give you a short review on what is this garment. Let’s start from the meaning of the term.

The world “jean” is the spoiling of Jeans or Jeanes, term used in French to indicate the city of Genova, in Italy. The plural of jean is jeans: this word became commonly used in the XIX century until today.

So, with the word “jeans” we intend trousers with certain characteristics:

  • copper or metal rivets
  • central metal button
  • 5 pockets cut
  • Label positioned on the top-right part of the back

Jeans History

History of jeans

Cotton plays an important role in the birth of jeans.

We need to make a step back until XII century, when cotton spreads in Europe because it is preferred to linen because of its major resistance and a bigger color brightness.

In this period was born the word “Fustagno”: a material produced mainly in two cities: Nimes and Genova. Through the names of the cities we arrive to the name we use today for this material: denim and jeans.

Genova was very important for the spreading of this material. In fact the first jeans leaving for USA leave from the Ligurian port. In USA jeans became famous.

Everything began because of a woman who asked the tailor Jacob Davis to create some resistant trousers for her husband, so that they could resist his work of woodcutter.

The news of these resistant trousers spread rapidly, so Jacob Davis is overwhelmed with requests.

After creating the perfect garment, the tailor understood that he needed someone else for the project. He made an agreement with a trader called Levi Strauss and a production chain was born.

Jeans are comfortable and resistant at the same time, perfect for workers who perform heavy tasks.

From this period to World War II jeans remain exclusively work clothes. It is used by farmers, workers, mechanics, miners and cowboys.

The turning point arrives after the end of the conflict, when jeans enter the common fashion world.

The iconic meaning of jeans

In the 1950s the use of jeans change. They are worn by movie stars such as James Dean and Marlon Brando.

This transforms jeans in the garment everyone wants to resemble their own cinema or music idols like Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. From this time on, jeans start to represent, for younger generations, the will of change and to go off the grid.

In the 1960s they are a political symbol. It is the period of uprisings against wars and requests of major rights in the whole world.

From the 1970s this garment enter directly in the fashion universe.

Jeans Rigenerato cedric-wilder-492554-unsplash


We’ve seen together the long history of this garmentFirst adopted for its utility, now it is a fundamental part of fashion for everyone.

We can find jeans in every part of the world: no one refuses to wear them.

To know the history of this garment is important because it shows us how a simple item of clothing has managed to reach everyone: every social class, age, sex. Jeans had the merit to overcome the numerous differences that characterize our world.

Jeans is for everyone.

We use them to make our upcycled jeans’ sweaters.

From the birth of jeans to the modern era, a lot has changed in the textile industry.

One of the most important revolutions is the one regarding upcycled textiles, the one we create at Rifò. If you’ve never heard about them, then read this article.

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