A jeans story

© COPYRIGHT 2007-2017 Jeans & Denim - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED - Author : Jerome Vallet

Genoese ship
In the 16th century, the independent republic of Genoa in Italy is at its peak. Its fabrics are well known and amongst them a woolen and linen cloth which is used to make sails for ships, tarps as well as rugged trousers for sailors.


A fabric from Genoa.
Imported into the New World, this fabric from Genoa finds an english name and becomes 'jeans' by phonetic approximation. In the 18th century this sturdy jean material is used for making outfits for slaves in the plantations.


Levi Strauss trades with californian gold miners
In 1853, it is tents and tarps made from this fabric that are sold to Californian gold miners by a German immigrant called Levi Strauss. But it is only when he decides to make dungarees and trousers out of the fabric that his business really takes off.


Levi Strauss
These trousers made from this fabric soon become Jeans. They are then available in dark colours.

It is around 1860 that Levi Strauss decides to replace this heavy fabric which is not very suitable for this type of clothing, by a cloth made out of weave cotton called ‘sergé de Nīmes’ which was later shortened to denim, this cloth was made in the French town of Nīmes since the 17th century.
The denim then is mainly dyed in indigo blue : blue jeans are then born.


Copper rivets patented in 1873
In 1871, Jacob Davis, tailor who is supplied with denim by The Strauss Company, has the idea to make the stitches stronger, especially the pockets stitches, using copper rivets.
No having the necessary funds, he suggests to Levi Strauss to put down a joint patent, making them the co-inventors of blue jeans with rivets on the pockets.
(patent # 139,121 from 1873)


At the end of 19th century, jeans are work-wears.
From then on, blue jeans become by far the most hard-wearing and durable trousers worn by workers.

In 1885, a pair of jean is worth 1.25$.
Its patent will enable Levi Strauss & Co to be the main manufacturer selling trousers with rivets for 20 years, until the 1890s . Once the patent expired, dozens of competitors make their appearance on the market.


Levi Strauss designed the back leather patch
Meanwhile in 1875, Levi Strauss personalises his collection
by adding double stitches followed by a leather patch as a stamp of its jeans quality in 1886.

In 1889 Lee is then created and will sale its first jeans in 1911, while Blue Bell, which will be known as Wrangler later, is created in 1904.
In 1926 Lee Company launches the first ever zipped jeans.


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