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The Origins Of Jeans Essay

1296 words - 5 pages

The second skin

Regular straight, boot cut & relaxed, or the 501® Original Fits? In all probability, no piece of garment has ever seen such days of glory as the blue jeans. Let us look back at the history of this symbol of the Western freedom, the minds behind its birth and spread, and the role it plays in the contemporary world.
Even though considered an all-American invention, the origins of jeans can be traced back to the 17th century, when the weavers in the French city of Nimes tried to reproduce jean fabric from the Italian city of Genoa. The failed experiments resulted in the invention of a similar, darker kind of cotton twill textile - denim. Clothes made out of what appears to be the jean fabric were even depicted on a number of 17th century paintings discovered in 2010. Nick Squires, the author of an article about the true origins of jeans states that the people featured in the forgotten works of art were wearing torn skirts and jackets made of a dark blue cloth. Where the indigo fabric was torn, white threads could be seen, pointing to the use of the weaving technique employed in the making of denim. Since the paintings are supposed to have originated somewhere near Venice, art historians believe that the birthplace of jeans is Italy rather than France (Squires).
It was only in the late eighteenth century that jeans arrived to the United States. Leob Strauss born in the 1829 Germany was a son of a Jewish dry good peddler Hirsch Strauss. The funds in the family after Hirsch’s death were simply not sufficient, which resulted in the children’s leaving for America. Leob, his mother, and sister followed the lead of the older Strauss sons and joined them in the New York City. The then 18-year old Leob changed his name into Levi right after the arrival in New York due to the issues Americans had with its pronunciation (Charles W. Carey 331). The beginnings of their business doings included selling dry goods, mostly bolts of fabric, needles and threads, to rural homemakers. After having accumulated a sufficient amount of money, the Strauss brothers opened a dry goods store in the New York City. The first business expansion meant peddling the goods from the store in the countryside of Louisville in Kentucky (332).
As many business started to prosper and expand due to the California Gold Rush of 1849, Strauss became a business partner of his sister’s husband David Stern. While sailing to California, he sold most of the carried goods to his fellow passengers. He was left with a couple of bolts of canvas and since the cloth was not appealing to the customers, he asked a tailor to use it for making a pair of trousers for a local labourer. At this time, the not-yet-blue pants cost $3 (Downey 15). Levi noticed that the trousers worn by the workers were not sturdy and durable enough and that is how he found the new target group for his product. The canvas pants, which were a notable success, were soon replaced by denim, which was just as durable...

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