Brief history of jeans, an icon of world fashion for over a century. From the Genoese origins to the double American paternity, from the inseparable combination with denim fabric to the thousand faces of contemporary models.
Cinema, television, theatre, art, writing. There is no creative expression that has not borrowed jeans from fashion, to use them as a symbol and icon of style . The trousers par excellence, born "for men" but soon becoming a unisex myth. A parable of success that has ancient roots and shows no signs of losing strength. Because, even today, jeans trousers are the most popular in men's wardrobes. Indeed, there are men who practically only have those in their closet. The secret of such unshakable passion is undoubtedly comfort , which over the years has combined with an ever-increasing aesthetic appeal .
An icon with two fathers and Italian origins
Few know it, but jeans have Italian origins , at least according to the most accredited historical reconstruction. To be more precise, Genoese. The term jeans, in fact, derives from Jeane or Jannes , which was how the French, in 1500, called Genoa . In fact, huge loads of fabrics left every day from the then powerful maritime republic, destined for all of Europe. Among these, also the moleskin produced in Chieri, blue in color (similar to current denim), with which the most ancient ancestors of jeans were produced.
Officially, however, jeans trousers were born only three hundred years later, in the United States . They were invented in 1871 by the tailor Jacob Davis , but they were patented by the German entrepreneur Levi Strauss , founder of the company of the same name, today a leader in the sale of jeans. The fabric used by Davis and Levi Strauss is denim . The trousers, in fact, must be very resistant, because they are work clothes , designed especially for miners (hence the need to provide many pockets).
Denim or no denim, that's the question?
Year after year, jeans evolve, up to the current line. The essential features that make them easily recognizable are the copper rivets (useful for reinforcing the seams), the central metal button and the five pockets . The fact that they are made in denim, however, is not essential. We often tend to confuse the two things, while they should be distinguished: jeans are a model of trousers, denim is a fabric. On the other hand, it is undeniable that the two elements are so connected as to be superimposable. The jeans par excellence are denim ones .
From the factory to the catwalks
But let's get back to the story. Because in the space of a century, the role of jeans changes radically. Until World War II , they remained work clothing, especially widespread in the United States. In addition to miners, cowboys, farmers and workers wear them. Something began to change in 1937 , when a pair of jeans ended up on the cover of the fashion magazine Vogue . The turning point, however, came in the 1950s, when jeans arrived in the cinema, thanks to two actors who made history: James Dean and Marlon Brando. It's a short step from the big screen to fashion shows. Jeans enter the collections of the greatest designers and take on different faces: sandblasted, satin, faded, even torn. A thousand faces which however confirm their popular origins: what fascinates in a jeans is its worn look, which gives the wearer an aura of seductive roughness.