Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Jeans and Their Evolution: From Factories to Fashion
Everyone has a pair of jeans. It could be that favorite pair you've had forever, or a brand new pair you just bought with Sunday newspaper coupons. But everyone has jeans they wear and love. They're comfortable, durable, and follow fashion trends as closely as women's shoes. Many offices now even allow jeans as part of their work wear, something that would have been unheard of when jeans began to be popular. In fact, during the 1950s, some restaurants and movie theaters refused to admit customers wearing jeans.
Jeans weren't always as fashionable as they are today. In fact, they were originally used as sturdy trousers worn by men and women in factories during World War II. In the 1950s, however, teenagers began wearing jeans as a form of rebellion against conformity, and by the 1970s, jeans were a staple of fashion wardrobes. They're available throughout the world, but typically, jeans are considered a part of American culture, like baseball and apple pie.
One of the major changes that has occurred in the jean industry is the change from standard trouser-style jeans worn by men and women prior to the 1950s. In the beginning, if you wanted to break in your jeans, you had to do it the old fashioned way, which either involved wearing them frequently for a long time, or dragging them on concrete and washing them frequently to make them look more worn.
The introduction of bell bottom jeans, for example, proved that jeans could be as much a fashion statement as a durable pair of pants. Now styles range from skin tight to large and baggy, available in every color imaginable. You can get jeans with embroidery, patches, rhinestones, or even brand new jeans that look as though they've been worn for twenty years. There are designers who specialize in jeans (besides Levi and Wranglers).
These changes have come thanks to the advances in clothing production. Jeans can be mass produced, and with the different machines and denim fabrics available, the only limit to jeans is the designers' imagination! In fact, the customer can become the designer, as well. You can take your favorite pair of jeans and customize them to your liking. Add embellishments, turn them into shorts, or grab some fabric pens and draw all over the fabric to turn them into a piece of art.
Because of the variety of jeans that are available, they can offer a professional looking alternative to dress pants in the office, particularly for women. There are even some dark washed jeans that can be mistaken for black dress pants! And since they are so popular, and can be more professional looking, offices are becoming more welcoming of jeans around the office, even if it isn't "casual Friday."
As far as jeans have come in almost seventy years, who knows what they'll look like seventy, fifty, or even twenty years from now? It could be that, as fashion develops, the jeans people wear years from now won't be recognized by the population as what we know as "jeans." For all we know, the evolution of jeans will continue, and they'll become the more formal wear, leaving "dress pants" hanging in boutiques and closets in favor of pants that started as simply sturdy work pants for factory workers.