Evolution of Jeans: From The Miners’ Basics to Your Favorite Skinnies

The world has so much to offer to us beings when it comes to clothing. There are suits, pajamas, cargos, sweat pants, and what not? And what we decide to wear depends on our mood and the weather. The latter being the annoying feature you wish you could ignore, especially in a country like India, where the winters and the monsoons are almost as unpredictable as the changes in stock market, it’s close to impossible to decide what to wear. Though, despite all these problems, one article of clothing has emerged victorious as ever over all the others, and that is, the mighty ‘denim wear’, commonly called as, jeans! You can wear these no matter how the weather is, you tend to wear them all day, they rarely get dirty and barely ever require a wash and most importantly, (as it goes for most teenagers) it’s a part of ‘WHO YOU ARE’! Those pairs and pairs of jeans live with you so intimately, that you both share a relationship similar to, “two – bodies – one – soul”.

Well, let’s take a walk down the isle of occurrences and milestones which led to the invention of those ‘skinny jeans’ lying in the corner of your room, (in other words, ‘sure, you want to know how those dang baby doll jeans of yours had evolved):

Depending on the fabric of your jeans, research has stated that, jeans first emerged in two different cities: Nimes (in France) and Genoa (in Italy). France was responsible for the production of your jeans fabric and they were the first ones to come up with such a brilliant idea, even the word ‘jeans’, originated from the French word ‘Gênes’! The citizens of Nimes, tried to develop a jeans material, but instead, produced a similarly woven fabric, and they called it, de Nimes, or, Denims, which was a coarser garment and considered to be very high quality.

And then Genoa came into the picture. Genoa’s version of jeans was a thick and hard-wearing cloth, whose textile was stated to be of medium – quality and of a very reasonable price, which was highly similar to corduroys. It was generally used for work purposes back then.

After that, it was spread through the world via trade practices and was used by underprivileged workers all around the world. It was also used by sailors as to cover and protect their goods on the dock from the nasty weather (think about it, they had no idea what an object of luxury it would become now). Jeans became highly popular when Levi Strauss and Co.’s introduced blue jeans overalls in 1873.

Well, the invention of zippers, also made jeans pretty popular. This was actually the very first edition to the personification of jeans. Men had zippers down the front of their jeans, while women had it on the left side of the top of their jeans. (This had changed down the chronological dates though. In 1960s, both, men and women had the zipper down the front of their jeans).

Initially, the way they fit the wearers was very different. The jeans initially were baggy, like a pair of bib overalls with pockets, just without the bib. This style was later called as, waist overalls. In 1965’s, a boutique in New York named, Limbo, became the first retailer to create and sell the worn-out effect jeans. How he achieved this look was simple; he just washed a new pair of jeans to get a used worn affect. The idea immediately became popular. Not only did he come up with this idea, he was responsible for adding the various embellishments our jeans today consist of, like, patches and decals. This year also saw the invention of the denim skirts. The hippies came up with the idea of recycling old denim jeans, by opening the seams and inserting pieces of triangular denim, in the front and the back.

Well, so much said, our skinny fit jeans haven’t always been a people’s favorite (mind boggling, isn’t it?). Here is how the garment evolved over time:

1800 – The Laborer Jeans


Exclusively made for activities like certain types of sports and mainly for manual laborers, like miners! We wouldn’t be wearing our blues, if the miners hadn’t demanded for them.

1930 – 1940 – The Cowboy Style


This is the era when the men (of all ages – young and middle aged) started watching the popular cowboy movies and got inspired by the pop idols and celebrities. They then demanded for the similar casual, rugged cowboy-ish look. A while later, World War II began, and the new heroes, A . K. A.  the soldiers, sported the jeans, while being on duty (and also casually). And the jeans gained booming popularity among men even more.

1950s – Rebellious & Slim


After the release of movies like, Rebel Without a Cause, had actors sporting the tapered jeans look. Not only were the actors the ones wearing jeans, the trend had now passed on to country music stars, rock and roll artists, like, Elvis Presley, and women celebrities, like the infamous Marilyn Monroe, were spotted wearing slip fit jeans, which were slim towards the ankle. The new trend shocked the country.

1960s – 1970s – Hippie Wear


This was the era when the jeans were modified to suit the virtual uniform of the anti – war treatment. They consisted of psychedelic colors, embroidery and cut offs. For a little more variety and uniqueness, the people came up with bell – bottom and stone – washed styles. The same was seen being sported by Faraah Fawcett in Charlie’s Angels.

1980s – Fashion and Luxury


The fashion industry realized that denims have been taking the world by storm. They started creating personal line of personalized and customized jeans. In 1981, Calvin Klien launched their first designer jean brand, CK (Calvin Klien). The model Brooke Shields is well known for advertising their line of jeans with an irresistible addition of sexiness. The designers also invented new colors of jeans, like, pink and white. Ever since, jeans were seen as a symbol of High – Class Glamour.

1990s – Combos!


Designers started mixing the jean fabric with other fabrics and created, lycra, stretch jeans, big and baggy jeans and brought out different colors of them, with the most popular ones being green, red and indigo. Gradually, jeans became the symbol of comfort, leisure and youthfulness for all ages, especially the youth.

Early 2000s – Emo?


The so called emo movement made it acceptable for men to wear eyeliner, grow their bangs and wear skinny jeans so skinny that everything in their pockets (and probably, everything else) is perfectly visible. The jeans were tailored to wear on the low waist and ever since, the fashion prevails.

2010s and Now – Semi – Skinnies and Skinnies


The total skinny jeans takes over the world. Everyone from supermodels to the dude at the cashier at the local grocery store is wearing the same type of pants. Though, they aren’t the most flattering pair of jeans, they certainly cut down on the awkward and long flares of the boot cut jeans.

With the evolution of technology, finding a pair of jeans is no longer the depressing task of trial and error in the shopping malls’ trial rooms. The virtual dressing rooms are eliminating the guesswork and helping you find the perfect, complimenting, figure – flattering pair of jeans; a custom pair to fit every body type.

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