Evolution Of Blue Jeans

Yves Saint-Laurent once said, “I wish I had invented blue jeans: the most spectacular, the most practical, the most relaxed and nonchalant. They have an expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity – all I hope for in my clothes.” From being the uniform of the working class to the must-haves of multi-billionaires, blue jeans have withstood the trial of times as an American icon. Not only do they make no distinction between class, sexes, age and group, they also understand the wearer and change with their personality.

From bohemian to chic to edgy, your blue jeans can be styled in any way you see fit. It is that one piece of clothing that you can never go wrong with. Regardless of the occasion or the mood. This one fail-proof, closet essential is the one we reach out for in the end. What an opus! Nothing could ever be so stylish as the Blue Jeans.

Read on to understand how the garment of the work folk, over the years, turned into one of the most versatile  casual attire in modern society.

1967: Paul Newman: denim-on-denim

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The origin of Blue Jeans: Levi Strauss

In 1853, a Bavarian immigrant named, Levi Strauss, responded to the gold-rush in California to sell his goods. Upon viewing the miner’s work conditions, he was requested to create a more tough and durable pair of work pants as the conventional pants would tear off in few weeks. Having to live in harsh conditions, the men at that time needed more sturdy clothing. So, with the help of local tailor Jacob, Strauss constructed a pair of pants, that were made from the canvas used to assemble the tents. Eventually, they began using heavyweight denim, and dyed the pants indigo, which then gave way to their name- ‘Blue Jeans’.

Here is the timeline of the most historic moments in the evolution of Blue Jeans.

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The 1900’s: THE OVERALLS

During the early 1900’s, miners would wear jeans and overalls fabricated from heavy-weight denim.

Miners in early 90’s

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US soldiers and sailors served the oversea’s act as inadvertent ambassadors for jeans, introducing them as casual wear around the globe.

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Although jeans were originally designed as men’s work wear, women who would work in farm and ranches seemed to adopt this trend as well.  In 1930, Vogue magazine ran an advertisement depicting two society women in jeans, they named it ‘Western Chic’. Soon, departmental stores were stocking up women Levi’s jeans.

While at first, the jeans would only come with a side opening. It was not until 1958, that the adjustments were made to the women’s jeans to incorporate a fly-front and a design to suit the woman’s shape.

By 1971, women started to clothe themselves in men’s jeans as a revolt to level off the effect between the sexes. Eventually, they began using it as a sports clothing which then later transformed into casual wear.

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In the early 1930’s, children’s jeans were in demand by parents but were opposed by the teachers, as the rivets on the jeans would make holes on the wooden seats. Hence, the manufacturers stopped using rivets on children’s jeans. By 1940’s the brand GWG  introduced colored denim jeans for children.

After World War II, jeans became the uniform for most of the adolescent men. Adolescent girls started to wear men’s jeans as casual wear. In order to distinguish themselves, most girls started to roll up their jeans and would also add a leather patch to it. Jeans then transformed into a symbol of youth and freedom- an affliction of the young through their similarities in dressing, freedom from sexual stereotype and restrictions of parental and societal values.

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Jeans became a hot item of clothing for the youth of 50’s and 60’s. In 1955, James Dean popularized blue jeans in his movie Rebel Without Cause. He wore a T-shirt, a leather jacket and a pair of jeans. A style that men began copying immediately. The Wild One a movie by Marlon Brando, presented rebellious youth, dressed in blue jeans, black leather motorbike jackets, and a white-T-shirt.

1960’s saw the youth rebellion against the established norms of the society. They wore jeans as a uniform to demonstrate their solidarity with the working class. They would also embroider designs and slogans or paint messages on their jeans.

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During the 1960’s jeans were rare among adults and were still not accepted in conventional places like school, restaurants, theaters and offices. With the creation of finer fabrics and new styles, blue jeans became a wardrobe staple.

During the 1980’s, designer jeans came into the marketplace, they were fashioned for style more than practicality and were designed ‘skin tight’ to accentuate curves.  They also became a standard of casual and everyday dressing.

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After the 1960’s, manufacturers came up with a wide variety of jeans to persuade the masses into buying them. During the 1970’s, Calvin Klein promoted his designer jeans as refined sportswear. By the 1980’s, designers like Gloria Vanderbilt, Ralph Lauren, and Jean-Paul Gaultier marketed their brands as well.

From bell-bottoms, baggy jeans, distressed denim, low rise to skin-tight jeans, there have been a number of jeans styles since the 1960’s.

Bell-bottoms were introduced in the market in 1969. They became quite popular with the men and women alike. Although the trend did not last for long, it seemed to make a come back during the 1990’s.

Baggy jeans became popular with subculture groups, hip hop sets and with skateboarders. They wore overly large, low-rise jeans, after which, ‘Tommy Jeans’ came up with several baggy styles, favored by the hip-hop set.

Around the 1980’s, the younger generation embraced the bohemian trend. They colored their hair in unusual colors and wore multiple accessories teamed with ripped jeans and a leather jacket. This caught the attention of manufacturers who then produced jeans with worn, torn and faded styles.

Ralph Lauren tried to capture the market by introducing tight-fitted jeans to the western world. In 1979, Buffalo label too came out with skin-tight jeans. These jeans were sometimes worn two inches small, so fitting into them was a struggle.

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Low-rise and Peek-a-Boo Jeans (bumster) designed by Alexander McQueen soon became popular. These tight-fitting pants were worn so low on the hips that the wearer’s rear cleavage was exposed. Baring the butt-crack was a familiar site on 2000’s. During the same time, Levi’s introduced its line of Dangerously Low jeans for women and men. Lee Cooper eventually launched Butt Couture, a line of jeans made from lightweight denim, with a gap between the waistband and pants, to create a peek-a-boo effect.

JEANS STYLES OF 2000’s & 2010’s

Denims were all the rage during the 2000’s. With the incorporation of  interesting finishes, unconventional cuts, great fits and size-inclusive labels, jeans had been officially termed as a ‘classic’.

While baggy jeans, straight cuts and unisex jeans were preferred during the early 2000’s, more alluring styles such as skinny fit, curvy cuts and ripped jeans seemed to be at high demand after 2010. Lately, they  have become one of the important elements of street style.  Hollywood celebrities like Gigi Hadid, Kendell Jenner, Miranda Kerr and many more can be seen flaunting their casual chic styles with various designs of jeans. Our Bollywood celebs are not too far behind. With celebs like Kareena Kapoor,  Katrina Kaif, and  Alia Bhatt popularizing various styles of jeans,  their followers too seem to be incorporating jeans into their personal styles.

Here are some styles of jeans that are trending in 2017.

Boyfriend Jeans

Though jeggings and skinny jeans were popular during the early 2010’s. Fashionistas all over seem to be embracing the ‘boyfriend jeans’ trend. This baggy, comfortable and tough design can be styled in many ways.

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 Bootcut or flared hems

Back to the 70’s! The most popular style of jeans found during the 1970’s seemed to have made a comeback. This free and uber-chic style works well for any body shape.

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Ripped Jeans

The highlight of the 2010’s jeans trends- the ripped jeans. With a slight wear in the fabric or with cuts all along the length of the legs, a distressed pair of jeans is a must-have. Try out the trend in a light wash to add that casual yet chic vibe to your look.

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From being the American Folk Culture to being one of the most popular casual item around the world. Jeans have always been a classic, that seemed to have survived through generations and will continue to do so for the generations to come. Hail Thy Blue Jeans!


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