Thursday, November 13, 2008

Day 72 | The evolution of jeans

Here's the main reason I am writing this blog and doing this test, to learn more about denim. Below is what I could find to be the most accurate on the beginning of denim, by Jan Adkins for If you disagree, feel free to comment.

"In 1853, a Bavarian immigrant named Levi
Strauss, an astute merchant in San Francisco, responded to the gold-rush need for tough miner's clothes. He had his stock of brown cotton tent canvas run up as plain trousers, no belt loops and no back pockets. A cinch belt in the back kept them up. Scrabbling among too many rocks and too little gold, crawling along shafts, wrestling timber supports and balky dray mules, Strauss's "overalls" lasted. They were cheap and they felt good.

Strauss switched to denim (from serge de Nimes , a twill made in southern France) and had it dyed in reliable, uniform indigo. By the I860s, Levi Strauss's blue pants were daily wear for miners and farmers and cattlemen throughout the West. In 1873
he bought, for $69 — the price of the patent application — an idea from a Russian immigrant tailor in Reno for making miner's pants stronger by riveting the critical seams. They were nicknamed jeans after the city of Genoa, where sailors wore blue cotton canvas.

By 1880 the Levi was full-blown, with orange stitching (including the trademark "arcuate" design across the back pockets, once the functional anchor for pocket lining), bar tacking, rivets, watch pocket and the "Two Horse" leather patch. Lot numbers are assigned to products and, for the OI-weight denim used, the "waist-high overalls" are called 501s. It's true; more so than most of the thin ghosts we call up for our heritage, Levi's are rooted in the real stuff."

Really interesting stuff, if you realise how popular jeans are today, and that it all only happened in the last 155 or so years.

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