Yves Saint-Laurent once said that he wished he had invented blue jeans as jeans “are expressive and discreet, they have sex appeal and simplicity,-everything I could want for the clothes I design” (The Fashion Book, Levi Strauss Designer, 1998).
Jeans are the camaleonic piece of clothing that has been around for over a century, from an item which only served the purpose of endure hard labor to the most eclectic and, dare to say, adaptable fashion piece, a true icon.
I came up with the idea to refresh my basic knowledge about jeans and it's design history after madly reviewing street style from Tokyo Fashion Week. I cannot comment on the actual fashion week, at least not to make any original comment or explainer as I haven't been there (insert sad face here).
But hey... Jeans as we know them know, have been through extreme changes over the +140 years of existence. A compelling piece of clothing created in 1873. Now here different versions of the story emerged. Below is the less popular version.
Jeans were created by Jacob W. Davis, a tailor from Reno, Nevada and Loeb Strauss (he liked the name “Levi Strauss”) a pedlar, from Germany who was running the Western branch of the family dry goods business in San Francisco. In the other, more popular versions, Levy Strauss is the actual creator. But let's keep on track.
Story tells a customer request Mr. Davis, pair of sturdy pants that could withstand hard work. He made them from denim that he bought from Levi Strauss & Co and made them stronger by placing copper rivets at the places pants rip the most: pockets and flies. When he wanted to patent them, he wrote to Levi Strauss, and they became partners.
The unforgettable name "Jeans" comes from the city of Genoa in Italy, a place where cotton corduroy, called either jean or jeane, was manufactured. And speaking of fabric... Jeans are made of a material called denim. The name “denim” comes from the name of a sturdy fabric called “Serge de Nîmes”, initially made in Nîmes, France, hence “de Nîmes” - “denim”. Weavers of Nîmes tried to reproduce the cotton corduroy that was famously made in Genoa, in Italy, but with no luck. With trial and error, they developed another twill fabric that became known as denim. That was cotton twill textile, in which the weft passes under two or more warp threads. Warp threads were dyed in indigo while weft threads remained white that gave to denim blue color on the one side and white on the other.
Going back to the first design: to make Levi jeans more durable, copper rivets were added to reinforce the points of stress in strategic places such as on the pocket corners.
This innovation helped to stop the weight of the gold nuggets from tearing the pockets: the two horse brand started saw the light. In 1873, rivets were placed at the bottom of the button fly to prevent it from ripping. That same year, the back pockets of the jeans were reinforced by adding stitching in the shape of a double arc design using orange thread. On May 20, 1874, Levi Strauss and his partner, Jacob Davis, received U.S. Patent 139,121, for an “Improvement in Fastening Pocket-Openings” (Dorner, 1974, p. 108-109; Tortora & Eubanks, 2010, p. 356; Wikipedia, Jeans).
Now see below the photos from Tokyo Fashion Week SS18 (Sourced from Vogue & Getty Images). It is really mesmerazing to me that everything that comes to my mind about the street style here starts with "E": Eclectic, Excentric, Extravagant, Ebullient, Effected, also Egregious, Elocutionary and sometimes Eerie.
There are some classic jeans as well as elocuent statment pieces that really push the outfit even a bit further, both extremes trully valid despite of course personal taste and comfort zone.
Nevertheless I rather YOU to be the judge.
And finally dear reader I would enjoy very much to know what you think about the post!
“Fashion is a language that creates itself in clothes to interpret reality.”