An Essay About the History of Jeans

What you are about to experience is a one of a kind tripâÂ?¦ a trip through history, through the makings and impact on American society of the jeans industry. Look around the room you are in. What are you wearing? What are the people around you wearing? The answer you might find yourself saying is “jeans.” Jeans have become an icon of American culture and everyone wears jeans. They have stayed popular throughout various fashions and time periods. On your journey, you will meet three different people, each with their own unique perspective on the jeans industry. You will meet three people, a manufacturer, a tour guide, and a fashion model. Your journey will start with Mr. Strauss. Enjoy your trip!Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

How ya’ll doin today? My name is Levi Strauss and I reckon that you’ve probably heard of me. Word travels quickly and by now you folks on the east coast have probably heard that my pants business called Levi Jeans has been booming as the newest style among old and young folk. Pretty soon every man, child and woman in America and the world will be wearing my jeans and great change will happen in clothing. Let me tell ya’ll how it all started.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

My jeans are pants made from a fabric called denim. I first thought about this great idea when I watched the Gold Rush in California with miners digging in trenches and getting dirty. I also noticed that cowboys needed good strong pants for working on the open range. When I was traveling in Europe I heard from a bunch of people that they were making this fabric they called dungaree. They told me it came from the Indians and was then sold to settlers near the Dongarri Fort which was near Maumbai. In Europe I got to see sailors in the Italian navy wear these dungarees which, as I found out, washed easily and dried quickly. Denim was first invented in Nimes, France and people used this fabric in sewing their pants because it was strong and durable. In 1872 I came back to the States and decided to create my own pants company in San Francisco. I remember like it was yesterday, my good old friend Jacob Davis whom I knew for so many years was buying pieces of odd clothing from me to sew up his old torn pants. That’s when he told me about his great idea of using copper rivets to reinforce the strands of material in the pants to hold it together with pockets on the sides. On May 20, 1873 we both got a patent for jeans and business boomed. I’m afraid that as you reach the end of this paragraph, my time in the old west has passed and I must return to my family. However, this discussion of jeans will continue with my good friend Mr. Calvin Klein who will take you to the mid twentieth century and will be your tour guide through history.

Step right this way people. Hurry everyone, gather around. I’m glad you could make it on such short notice. It’s not often that we get celebrities of your status to visit our museum. I’d like to personally thank you, Mr. Tom Ford of Gucci, Mr. Ralph Lauren, and Mr. Armani for attending today’s event. Now in this part of the museum you will see the time period of the mid twentieth century as jeans became more and more popular with the American people. Does anyone have any questions at this part of the tour?Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

-Yes Mr. Klein. My question is, “why has the perception of jeans changed over the past decades?”
-Ah, excellent question and I’m glad you asked. Jeans at first had that rugged cowboy look that people wanted to emulate but now it is more of an everyday clothing item for every type of fashion that people wear. Both men and women wear jeans now because it is comfortable and people feel they look good in them. At first there were only three styles that Levi used and now there are a wide variety of them. The various styles today include loose cut, baggy, boot cut, slim fit, carpenter, classic, original and many others.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

Now I have a question to ask you. What is it about jeans that makes them so popular today? Trends and styles have changed every decade or so but jeans have remained constant as the one style that has stayed in fashion.
Mr. Lauren, would you like to take a stab at the question?�¯�¿�½

-Certainly. Most clothing items have only one type of style with a unique look. Jeans on the other hand appeal to a wide range of people in social classes and areas because of the wide selection available to the public. In examining one particular style, the baggy pants design, it became evident that the wide range of styles and fits for jeans made them popular with a large range and diverse group of people.�¯�¿�½

Excellent answer Mr. Lauren. The baggy jeans design originated with minority groups who first thought it was cool to wear pants really low below the hips. The baggy look contributed to a “gang” image that, while parents may not have approved of it, became popular with the youth in that time period. As the fad caught on, more and more people wore their jeans really baggy, several sizes bigger than their waist. While that style has died down slightly, it is still very much a part of urban culture and lifestyle. A clothing line by music mogul Sean Combs in which most of the clothing sold is tailored to be worn big and loose is a big successÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

Thank you folks for your time but I really must be leaving now. I have another group of people to show around the place so I’d like to direct your attention to Ms. Johnson, the spokeswoman for the Sean John jean clothing line. She will take you to the twenty-first century to get a first hand look at jeans in today’s modern real world.

Greetings everyone. I’m glad you could make it today to the Sean John modeling agency. For the last part of your trip you will be able to see a first hand experience of the world of jean modeling and how brands and styles have impacted American culture.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

Getting back to the discussion of the Sean John clothing line by Sean Combs, do brand names make jeans popular? More importantly, what is a brand name? And why have some styles and clothing lines of jeans gone through the roof, so to speak, with prices for a pair of pants exceeding one hundred dollars or more? I will answer all of your questions as we begin our tour.
The Sean John clothing line has a small logo imprinted on every piece of clothing in white scripted letter with the name of “Sean John” on it. Now some of you might be asking yourself, if all the clothing has on it is a tiny little word with a man’s name on it, what separates it from a pair of jeans that a shopper can buy at the Steve and Barry’s College Store that sells everything in the store, including jeans, for a measly eight dollars? The rhetorical answer is ninety-two dollars. A brand name means so much in today’s culture and clothing lines can get away with driving up the cost of a simple and easy to make piece of clothing like jeans because the demand for a brand name is very high. Everyone wants to be like Sean P. Diddy Combs and they are willing to pay large amounts of money to buy the clothing that he wears and sells all for the sake of looking cool. The most expensive pair of jeans currently being sold on today’s markets is produced by Escada Jeans whose cheapest pair is $7,500 and the most expensive is $10,000. Can any of you imagine spending $10,000 for one pair of jeans? As a model who works for a living trying on clothing and walking around in different items, there isn’t much that separates a pair of jeans selling for thousands of dollars from jeans selling for less than one-hundred dollars besides its brand name. The Escada brand of jeans appeals to a very rich crowd and can make a huge profit with its style of jeans.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

Another interesting point to make is how one generation of people might look down on one style in a particular generation and yet that same style that was frowned upon suddenly becomes popular in a new age and with a new generation. What exactly am I talking about you may ask? Well, staying on the topic of jeans my friend, look at the style of ripped jeans and its effect on American culture. Decades ago if a child or young adult wore a pair of jeans that had holes in them or were ripped, one reaction to that person might be something like this, “What’s wrong with that person? Are they poor? Can’t they afford a new pair of jeans that don’t have holes in them?” This does in fact seem like a normal response. But in today’s society, many people, especially, middle school through college students are wearing the style as the new fad. It has suddenly become cool to wear ripped jeans and they are looked at by some as a badge of honor. Often people who wear ripped jeans have a story that comes with the hole in their jeans. Maybe they were playing a street ball game at the park or had to hop over a fence to get somewhere. Perhaps they make a person feel comfortable or were a certain style that is no longer made. For whatever the reason, ripped jeans represent a story or memory that is worth keeping around and wearing. As more and more people have kept and wear their old jeans with holes in them, the style has gained popularity and today the ripped jeans style is being sold in stores. Even top brand names such as Versace and Gucci have started to sell ripped jeans in their expensive stores because that is what the public wants to wear. Ripped jeans started in the 1980’s with the punk era of teenagers. Ripped jeans were worn as part of the tough guy look and punk crowd along with torn t-shirts and leather jackets. Now in the year 2006, the trend and style of ripped jeans is back in style.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

The blue-jeans fashion is a twelve billion dollar industry and it is a popular clothing style worldwide, especially in the U.S. No matter what style or fashion is worn, jeans have a long history of being popular in American culture and whatever price you decide to spend on them, you’re guaranteed to find a style that’s right for you. I’d like to thank you for coming today to the jeans imagination through history tour and I hope you enjoyed your trip and learned a thing or two today.

Yara, Susan. Forbes Inc, 2006.
Thomas, Pauline. Denim Jeans. 2006.
Jones, Lamont. (2005, January 16) The culture of jeans. Pittsburgh Post Gazette on the
web. Retrieved from

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