The Evolution of Denim

Denim - a classic, timeless, and durable fabric.

Everyone knows what denim looks and feels like, but do you know the history behind it? In this article, we’ll be going through a brief history of denim throughout the 20th century, highlighting the boom of the designer denim movement in the 80s and 90s, and a little sneak peek at what we're doing with denim in the near future. 

Late 17th Century in the French Town of Des Nimes, Denim was invented, and in 1873, tailor Jacob Davis and fabric house owner Levi Strauss patented the classic denim jeans, that we still see today (classic indigo-dyed denim with sturdy riveting). Hollywood helped romanticize blue jeans by putting these trousers on cowboy-type heartthrobs like John Wayne and Gary Cooper. In the 1930s, Vogue called jeans “Western Chic”, which resulted in a popularity spike amongst women.

It wasn’t until the 1950s that jeans were associated with the rebellious and anti-establishment youth. Actors Marlon Brando and James Dean were the poster children of rebellion, and their wardrobes consisted mostly of blue denim jackets and straight-leg denim jeans, inspiring young adults for years to come. 

Moving onto the mid-70s and 80s, these decades brought the beginning of designer denim. It started in 1976 when Calvin Klein introduced blue jeans on the runway, making him the first designer to do so, which then created a ripple effect for the years to come. Brooke Shield’s Calvin Klein Campaign and Claudia Schiffer’s Guess ads helped give blue jeans a new kind of seductive image, making denim more desirable to designers and customers alike. 

Since the 80s built the foundation of designer denim, the 90s even brought more denim onto the runway. Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, and Dior soon entered the jean market, making jeans more popular than ever. This era also introduced new silhouettes to denim - designers began to showcase dresses, skirts, and even handbags made from denim on the runway. This era can be described as the “Golden Age of Denim” as supermodels, singers, and athletes were frequently seen strutting the streets adorned with denim.

In the early 2000s, denim maintained its status as one of the most sought-after fabrics for fashion. The term “Denim on Denim” was coined in this era, as many celebrities began to mix and match denim in their looks. One of the most famous “Denim on Denim” looks was worn by Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake (pictured below). Ever since then, denim became a household item – everyone had to have a pair of jeans at some point.

With the return of Y2K, denim began to grace the runways once again. An array of skirts, shirts, jackets, pants, and bags can be seen making appearances during the Fall/Winter ‘22 and Spring/Summer ‘23 runways in silhouettes reminiscent of the early 2000s era.

Very soon, you can expect to see our take on denim!

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