From its humble beginnings as a durable working pant for gold miners and railroad workers, through its rebellious teenage years in the 1950s and '60s, to its glam days in the 1980s and '90s, the blue jean has stood as a testament to the American spirit.
But if you're a guy, reading a blog, searching for the perfect jean, chances are you're not working on the railroad tracks or mining for coal. Your pants don’t need to be durable enough to survive a 10-hour workday in the mines or cost more than your share of the rent; they just need to survive the day today activities from your commute. You're probably the kind of guy who wants to look good, feel comfortable, and still have a little money in your back pocket.
Still, it's kinda fun to know the history of such important American iconography and be able to impress your friends on trivia night. Give us 2 minutes and we'll take you on a whirlwind historical tour of the mighty denim jean in it’s first 100-year history.
A Working Man's Trouser
Of course, you're familiar with the most common name associated with blue jeans for men: Levi Strauss. However, the famous trousers were actually the creation of Jacob Davis, a tailor who was asked to create a durable pant for miners. Strauss had followed the Gold Rush to California to serve the booming population with dry goods. Davis used the sturdy fabrics Strauss brought from the East Coast to create his masterpiece.
Davis couldn't afford to patent the pants, so he partnered with Strauss to create the famous jean company after receiving their patent in 1873. Initially the pants were made in a brown duck cloth and the denim, but the denim proved to have the staying power.
Rebel Wear of the 1950s
The jean remained a working man's pant until they were popularized by Hollywood stars and featured in serial westerns of the 1920s and '30s. James Dean and Marlon Brando, who truly lit up the silver screen with their portrayals of rebellious outsiders and misunderstood teens, sported the main fashion staple: the white tee and dark blue jeans – cuffed, of course.
The trend became so popular that certain universities banned the garment from being worn, ironically making jeans even more popular as a counterculture statement into the 1960s.
In a future post…. (your personal spin and tag line maybe a little history of your own.)