Jeans have been a staple attire since the 1800s and are not going out of style any time soon. They started as something that was used as work attire in the fields and is now owned by the majority of Americans. They can be dressed up, dressed down, worn on casual Fridays, or worn almost anywhere for work and leisure. They can be found anywhere on just about anybody.
Not only had the circumstance for wearing jeans evolved, but the style has as well. There’s straight, slim, skinny, bootcut, flared, etc. The list goes on forever. Denim has even been used for jean shorts and skirts.
Jeans were originally made from cotton denim in different weights. Recently, there has been a trend to add “stretch” to men’s and women’s jeans for a trimmer fit and wrinkle free washability. Different washes have created a new generation of “faded” coloring.
The possibilities for denim jeans have come a long way. Let’s take a look at where it started and how jeans have evolved since the 1800s.
Where It All Began
The classic denim jeans were born in 1873. You know the very popular brand, Levi’s? Well, Levi Strauss was the creator of denim jeans and later formed Levi Strauss and Co with Jacob Davis. Their jeans were Made in America back then. Since then, there have been many famous brands that have competed with Levi’s, but the original company has still been able to maintain its status, despite moving manufacturing offshore and downgrading the quality of their products.
Jacob Davis was a tailor from Reno, Nevada, and had asked Levi to make a pair of sturdy pants for work. Davis added copper rivets for the spots that are most common to ripping (zipper and pockets). He wanted to patent this idea so he reached out to Levi and they became partners.
Through the Decades
Mens jeans have evolved quite a bit through the decades and have managed to always stay in style. What have some of the featured looks through the years been?
Jeans remained a staple for manual labor attire. It was popular among miners, cowboys, and farmers in the west. It wasn’t until Vogue featured a model on the front cover flaunting jeans that it suggested denim jeans could be used for something more than just manual labor. Western films were also a hit and the actors were sporting Levi’s jeans. This practically turned Levi Strauss and Co. into a designer brand.
It was in the ’50s that jeans for men really became a fashion trend. This is when we saw famous “bad boys” such as James Dean and Marlon Brando wearing them in films. This is when jeans became a sort of rebellion and were even banned by some school boards. These types of actors created a cuffed and boxy style that people were soon to follow. Soon different colors of washed came into play. Dark jeans that were cuffed were the trends that men adapted.
Continuing into the bad boy’s era, England began to catch onto the trend. As the rock n’ roll culture began, jeans were a go-to choice for band members and their followers. At this point, different brands of jeans had been created and the protesters of the middle-class wore jeans. Jeans were a form of rebellion because they showed that those men and women did not conform to the ideals of society. It’s even important to note that Ringo Star did not wear a suit like his bandmates on the Abbey Road album cover. Instead, he wore jeans.
The late ’60s were filled with peace, love, and flower-power. Denim began to evolve even further as the era of Hippies began. They wore flared jeans with denim jackets. They were embroidered with patches and tye-dye made denim pop.
Calvin Klein was one of the first designer brands to be at the forefront of creating denim jeans. Klein was able to snag a 15-year-old Brooke Shields for their jean advertisements. Once that hit television, all other designer brands were playing catch up.
We also saw a change in the style. They were now ripped, acid or stone washed, and more form-fitting with skinnier pant legs.
From designer and skinny, jeans were now big and baggy. With the rise in hip hop, these artists opted for the denim to fit looser around the legs, and lower on the waist, and be more bunched up at the feet. The baggier the better right?
Carpenter jeans added more pockets and tabs into the mix as well as overalls.
In the past 20 years, denim jeans have seen new trends and even recurring trends. Skinny jeans came back into style and currently, mom jeans are all the hit. Today’s jeans have been used for business casual wear to work, to going out at night, or even just for day-to-day activities. Skinny jeans still own the market but the younger generation is heading towards looser fitting styles that are high-waisted.
Jeans started as pants for workers, turned into a form of rebellion, and now are a natural part of today’s fashion. Dress them up with a blazer or wear it casually with a t-shirt; jeans are so versatile, you’ll never have to worry about what to wear. In fact, first impressions are formed within the first seven to seventeen seconds of meeting someone and 55% of their opinion is fixed on appearance so make sure you’re always wearing the right pair of jeans.