May 2, 2017

Jeans had humble beginnings as tough work clothes for miners, but their evolution and popularisation over the decades have made them a part of the fashion world’s legacy. Jeans have withstood the wear and tear of time as an American icon. It has evolved into a style suiting just about every demographic. From fitting the thighs of miners, farmhands, cowboys, to those of rebels, hippies, rock stars, hip-hop artists, fashionistas and businesspeople, the trend of ‘jeans’ has undergone various changes.

Origin

In the late 1800s, denim trousers called ‘waist overalls’ were typically worn by male workers.

It was on May 20, 1873, jeans as we now know them, were born. A tailor named Jacob Davis approached businessman Levi Strauss about seeking financial support to patent his idea of adding metal rivets to the pockets and button fly of denim trousers, to make them more durable.

evolution of jeans

Picture Credits: Levi Strauss & Co.

Early 1900s

In the 1920s and 1930s, jeans became the popular Western wear in the United States. It was worn by miners, cowboys and other male workers who needed durable clothing that could withstand heavy wear and tear.

In 1936, Levi Strauss added his signature red flag to the back pocket of jeans, making it the first item of clothing to have a designer label on the outside. It was in the 1930s only that Vogue magazine featured its first model wearing denim on the cover. It subtly hinted to the fact that jeans could perhaps be a fashion statement for women, and not just practical clothing for working men.

evolution of jeans

Photo Courtesy

1950s: A Fashion Icon is Born

 By the 1950s jean pants had begun to be worn as casual wear, symbolising a spirit of rebellion among the youth of the day. The 1950s style of wearing denim was straight-cut, with heavy muted colours and was more favoured by men.

evolution of jeans

Picture Credits: Pinterest

1960s: Became a Symbol of the Youth

By the 1960s, the look had evolved. Jeans began to be worn by the middle-classes as well as women. As women’s clothing became more expressive and liberal, jeans took on a ‘drainpipe’ style with brighter colours and a sexier slim-fit design.

evolution of jeans

Picture Credits: Pinterest

1970s: The Hippie Phase

Wearing jeans could now be used to make a “statement”. The ’70s saw jeans reinvented and the casual look became a symbol of a carefree generation. Flared jeans, also known as bell-bottoms, were the hottest must-have and were loved by hippies and commoners alike. The defining denim look of the generation was that they were tight fitting at the thigh, getting wider from the knee down and remained a traditional blue colour.

evolution of jeans

Picture Credits: Pinterest

1980s: The Rebellious Phase

Stonewashed hues hit the streets. By the ’80s, the fun and carefree ’70s flares had been traded for an edgier vibe. Acid washes and ripped designs were used to give a grungy feel to jeans.

evolution of jeans

Picture Credits: Like Totally 80s

1990s: Denim Goes Unisex

Unisex, baggy-styled jeans were the defining feature of the ’90s. They were nicknamed ‘boyfriend jeans’ or ‘mom jeans’ owing to their loose-fit style.

evolution of jeans

Picture Credits: Pinterest

2000s: The Creative Phase

A new wave of premium denim companies emerged and wearing a specific denim brand quickly becomes a status symbol. Denim became a whole lot more creative, as fashion embraced a DIY look. Punch-outs, prints, embellishments, stones bling and chunky accessories, everyone could get away with personalising their jeans any which way they wanted.

evolution of jeans

Picture Credits: HubPages

Now: Style It Your Way

Whilst skinnies were fashionable in the late 2ooos, wearing denim from previous decades is proving popular today. Whether it’s an old-school pair of flares, grungy looking ripped jeans or some nostalgic boyfriend jeans, this year it’s all about wearing the style you love.

evolution of jeans

Picture Credits: Column Of Dupsy Daisy

Literally climbing the social ladder of taste, jeans has become a fashionable, attractive second skin. It has made its way into our everyday lifestyle. Braving the waves of changing trends, denim has remained a wardrobe staple over time and looks like it is here to stay for years to come.

 Click here for more on styling inspirations for denim this season.