The Remarkable History Of Denim (How It Became an Icon in Fashion)
by Boris Hodakel • May 28, 2020 • 9 min read
Denim is a fabric that is used in clothing all over the world such as jeans, jackets, and shirts. However, the history of denim is rich and varied and dates back further than you might realize. There are few materials that can claim to have traveled as far as denim has.
However, the actual history of denim is shrouded in mystery. Not many people know the true history of this fabric and how it came to be in the form that we know today. We’re going to be taking a look at the history of denim to try and understand how this fabric came from humble beginnings to a giant of the clothing industry that is estimated to produce $129.8 billion of retail sales by 2021.
Denim fabric has its origins in France. This nation, as you may know, is considered to be one of the fashion capitals of the world, so it’s no surprise that one of the most significant clothing trends of the past century came from there.
Initially, denim began life as a fabric known as “serge de Nimes.” As keen-eyed readers will notice, ‘de Nimes’ bears a resemblance to denim, which is what this fabric would eventually come to be known as. It was created to be a long-lasting and robust fabric that was initially conceived in Italy. This material was known as ‘jean’ or ‘jeane,’ and it became the initial blueprint for Levi jeans.
Interestingly enough, the initial attempt to replicate this French fabric in Italy was a failure. However, it was in the process of trying to do so that textile manufacturers discovered denim. At the time, the only color available was blue, which is in part thanks to the organic indigo dye which was available at the time. This is why modern jeans are primarily available in shades of blue.