Jeans

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
A pair of loose fit men's jeans

Jeans are trousers made from denim or dungaree cloth. Often the term "jeans" refers to a particular style of pants, called "blue jeans" and invented by Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss in 1873. Starting in the 1950s, jeans, originally designed for cowboys and miners, became popular among teenagers, especially members of the greaser subculture. Historic brands include Levi's, Lee, and Wrangler. Jeans come in various fits, including skinny, tapered, slim, straight, boot cut, narrow bottom, low waist, anti-fit, and flare.

Jeans are now a very popular article of casual dress around the world. They come in many styles and colors; however, blue jeans are particularly identified with American culture, especially the American Old West.

History[edit]

Etymology[edit]

The story of jeans begins in the city of Genoa, in Italy, famous for its cotton corduroy. Jean fabric from Genoa (at that time) was in fact very similar to corduroy; Genoese sailors started to use it to cover and protect their goods on the docks from the weather.

During the Republic of Genoa, the jeans were exported by sailors of Genoa throughout Europe. Gênes, the French word for Genoa, may therefore be the origin of the word "jeans". In the French city of Nimes, weavers tried to reproduce the fabric exactly, but without success. However, with experimentation, and through trial and error, they developed another twill fabric that became known as denim, literally "de Nimes". Only at the end of the nineteenth century did jeans arrive in the United States.

Riveted jeans[edit]

Levi Strauss
Jacob Davis
Copper rivets for reinforcing pockets are a characteristic feature of blue jeans.
The classic label for Levi 501 jeans.

A young man named Levi Strauss emigrated in 1851 from Germany to New York to be with his older brothers, who ran a dry goods store. In 1853 he moved to San Francisco to establish his own dry goods business.

In 1872, Jacob Davis, a tailor who frequently purchased bolts of cloth from the Levi Strauss & Co. wholesale house, wrote to Levi asking to partner with him to patent and sell clothing reinforced with rivets.[1] Davis' idea was to use copper rivets to reinforce the points of stress, such as on the pocket corners and at the bottom of the button fly. After Levi accepted Davis's offer,[2] the two men received US patent No. 139,121, for an "Improvement in Fastening Pocket-Openings," on May 20, 1873.[3]

An oft-told "attractive myth" is that Levi initially sold brown canvas pants to miners, eventually dyed them blue, turned to using denim, and after Davis wrote to him, Levi added rivets to his blue jeans. However, this story is false and probably due to the discovery of jeans made of brown cotton duck (a type of bottomweight fabric), which was one of the early materials used by Davis and Levi Strauss after 1873.[1] Finding denim a more suitable material for work-pants, they began using it to manufacture their riveted pants. The denim used was produced by an American textile manufacturer, but popular legend states the denim was obtained from Nimes, France.[1]

Worldwide market for jeans[edit]

North America accounts for 39% of global purchases for jeans, followed by Western Europe at 20%, Japan and Korea at 10% and the rest of the world at 31%.[4]

Americans spent more than US$14 billion on jeans in 2004 and US$15 billion in 2005.[5] Americans bought US$13.8 billion of men's and women's jeans in the year which ended April 30, 2011, according to market-research firm NPD Group.[6]

Evolution of the garment[edit]

The blue denim fabric of jeans

Initially, jeans were simply sturdy trousers worn by factory workers. During this period, men's jeans had the zipper down the front, whereas women's jeans had the zipper down the left side. Fewer jeans were made during the time of World War II, but 'waist overalls' were introduced to the world by American soldiers, who sometimes wore them when they were off duty. By the 1960s, both men's and women's jeans had the zipper down the front. Historic photographs indicate that in the decades before they became a staple of fashion, jeans generally fit quite loosely, much like a pair of bib overalls without the bib. Indeed, until 1960, Levi Strauss called its flagship product "waist overalls" rather than "jeans".

After James Dean popularized them in the movie Rebel Without a Cause, wearing jeans became a symbol of youth rebellion during the 1950s. Because of this, they were sometimes banned in theaters, restaurants and schools.[7] During the 1960s the wearing of jeans became more acceptable, and by the 1970s it had become general fashion in the United States for casual wear.[8]

Michael Belluomo, editor of Sportswear International Magazine, Oct/Nov 1987, P. 45, wrote that in 1965, Limbo, a boutique in the New York East Village, was "the first retailer to wash a new pair of jeans to get a used, worn effect, and the idea became a hit." He continued, "[Limbo] hired East Village artists to embellish the jeans with patches, decals, and other touches, and sold them for $200." In the early 1980s the denim industry introduced the stone-washing technique developed by GWG also known as "Great Western Garment Co." Donald Freeland of Edmonton, Alberta pioneered the method,[9] which helped to bring denim to a larger and more versatile market. Acceptance of jeans continued through the 1980s and 1990s to the point where jeans are now a wardrobe staple, with the average North American owning seven pairs.[10][verification needed] Currently, jeans may be seen worn by people of all genders and ages.

Manufacturing processes[edit]

Dyeing[edit]

Traditionally, jeans are dyed to a blue color using an indigo dye. Approximately 20 thousand tons of indigo are produced annually for this purpose, though only a few grams of the dye are required for each pair.[11] Some other colors that can be achieved are pink, yellow, black, and white.

Chemical structure of indigo dye, the blue of blue jeans.

For more information on dyeing, refer to denim and the discussion there of using pigment dyes.

Pre-shrinking of jeans[edit]

Young people wearing a variety of jean styles, including carpenter jeans, bootcut jeans, drainpipe jeans and lowrise jeans. (Rome, 2008)

Levi Strauss first marketed preshrunk jeans, which did not shrink further after purchase, allowing the consumer to buy his or her correct size, in 1963.[12] These jeans were known as the 505 regular fit jeans. The 505 are almost identical to the 501s with the exception of the button-fly. The Levi's corporation also came out with a slim bootcut fit known as 517 and 527. The difference between the two is 517 sit at the waist line and the 527 sit below the waist line. Later on, Levi's would develop other styles and fits such as the loose, slim, comfort, relaxed, skinny, and a regular fit with a tapered leg.

Used look[edit]

The used or "acid wash" look is created by means of abrading the jeans and/or treating them with chemicals, such as acryl resin, phenol, a hypochlorite, potassium permanganate, caustic soda, acids etc.[13]

Sandblasting or abrading with sandpaper[edit]

Consumers wanting jeans that appear worn can buy jeans that have been specially treated. To give the fabrics the worn look, sandblasting or abrading with sandpaper is often done.

Environmental and humanitarian impact[edit]

A typical pair of blue jeans consumes 919 gallons of water during its life cycle (this includes the water to irrigate the cotton crop, manufacture the jeans, and the numerous washes by the consumer).[14]

The production of jeans with a "used look" can be more environmentally damaging than regular jeans (depending on how the waste compounds are processed). Sandblasting and treating with sandpaper has the risk of causing silicosis to the workers, and in Turkey, more than 5,000 workers in the textile industry have been stricken with this disease, and 46 people are known to have died. Some companies have announced they are banning the use of sandblasting.[15]

Care and wear[edit]

Despite most jeans being “pre-shrunk”, they are still sensitive to slightly further shrinking and loss of coloring from being washed. The Levi Strauss company recommends avoiding washing jeans as much as possible. Carl Chiara, Levi Strauss director of brand and special projects, has a credo: The less you wash your jeans, the better your jeans become.[16] These and other suggestions to avoid washing jeans where possible have encountered criticism. Cory Warren, editor of LS&Co. Unzipped, clarifies in a response to such a criticism:

Our advice is to wash less often, but clearly, you have to judge for yourself what's appropriate. Hot day, dirty job? Wash your jeans. Please! Cold day, office job? Maybe you can wear them twice or more before they go back to the washing machine. Personally, if I wear a pair of jeans to work on Friday—cool climate, office job—I tend to wear them on Saturday. And if Saturday is spent indoors and I'm not spilling food all over myself, I might even wear them on Sunday.

—Corey Warren[16]

For those that prefer to refrain from washing their jeans, there have been suggestions to freeze them in order to kill the germs that cause odor. However, this advice has been disputed as ineffective and replaced with the suggestion of storing them for ten minutes in 250 degrees Fahrenheit.[17]

Jeans in the USSR[edit]

Jeans were introduced to the USSR in 1957, during the World Festival of Youth and Students. Moscow and Leningrad were the first cities where jeans showed up, appearing before any foreign students or tourists came along. (These two capitals have always been visited more often by foreign delegations.) From here, jeans appeared in some port cities, such as Odessa and Kaliningrad. It was in these cities that jeans began to appear in 1964 for the first time. In the same timeframe, jeans started being mentioned in Vasily Aksenov's and Evgeny Evtushenko's works. In 1962 during Khrushchev's famous meeting with some creative intellectuals, Voznesensky gained some notoriety because he came to the meeting in jeans.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Downey, Lynn (2007). (official Levi Strauss & Co. historian) "A Short History of Denim"[dead link]
  2. ^ Wagman-Gellar, Marlene (2010). Eureka!: The Surprising Stories Behind the Ideas That Shaped the World, Eureka #3 (1871) (unpaginated). Penguin Group (USA), Inc. Retrieved October 2, 2011.
  3. ^ U.S. Patent 139,121
  4. ^ http://www.denimsandjeans.com/latest-denim-reports/denim-data-figures/world-denim-market-a-report-on-capacitiesmarket-size-forecasts-etc/
  5. ^ Sullivan, James. Jeans: A Cultural History of an American Icon. London: Gotham Books. ISBN 978-1-59240-214-4. OCLC 62697070. 
  6. ^ Binkley, Christina (July 7, 2011). "How Can Jeans Cost $300?". Wall Street Journal. 
  7. ^ "Jeans History". Twenty Something Yak. Retrieved 2010-09-24. 
  8. ^ Smith, Nancy MacDonell (2003). The Classic Ten:poella grande y gruesa The True Story of the Little Black Dress and Nine Other Fashion Favorites. Penguin. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-14-200356-5. Retrieved 13 January 2011. 
  9. ^ "Levi's By the Numbers (Men's)". Worldflow Knowledge. Retrieved 2010-12-31. 
  10. ^ "True Blue – And Green, Too: Denim Is Fashionable And Renewable". Cotton Lifestyle Monitor. Cotton Incorporated. May 18, 2009. Retrieved 2010-09-24. 
  11. ^ Elmar Steingruber “Indigo and Indigo Colorants” Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry 2004, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim. doi: 10.1002/14356007.a14_149.pub2
  12. ^ "Levi Strauss & Co. Timeline". Retrieved 2012-11-23. 
  13. ^ Der preis der Bluejeans' documentary by Studio Hamburg 2012
  14. ^ Kaufman, Leslie (2011-11-01). "Tim Tries to Minimize Water Use". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  15. ^ "Sandblasted jeans: Should we give up distressed denim?". BBC News. 2011-09-30. 
  16. ^ a b "Wash My Jeans? Hardly.". LS&CO. UNZIPPED. 2012-07-30. 
  17. ^ http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2011/11/the-myth-of-the-frozen-jeans/

External links[edit]