The Iconic Blue Jean: A History Lesson

Our wardrobes all share at least one common thread: a pair of blue jeans. And, since this year marked their 140th birthday, let’s take a look back at the story behind the birth of our wardrobe standby.

BLG-1829 What Are You Really Wearing Levi Strauss

The Story
It all began with Levi Strauss. By 1853, the California Gold Rush was well underway, and Strauss was a hopeful immigrant seeking prosperity in the land of opportunity. He moved his supply company out to San Francisco, where he soon learned that there was a demand for clothing that could withstand work conditions in the mines. Coincidentally, Strauss had already been selling work pants made out of excess canvas. With a few modifications to that style, he obtained an official U.S. patent – his own golden opportunity.

The Design
Strauss decided to use durable denim in lieu of lightweight canvas for his alternative to the trouser. And for color, the classic five-pocket style was given a uniform indigo hue. But what really set this pant apart? It’s all in the details. Copper rivets were set strategically at tension points to prevent wear and tear. And, just like that, the blue jean took off as the official uniform for the working class.

The Legacy
So, where exactly is the blue jean now? I’d say just about everywhere, though the details are now more for fashion than function. And in the business world, we aren’t just wearing them on the occasional dress-down day. Casual dress in corporate America is having a major moment, and with that comes an influx of indigo in the office. We’re certainly not complaining.

By Jillian Hudon, Staff Writer

Want the lowdown on fabrics and more? Follow our What Are You (Really) Wearing? column every Tuesday.

Not a Member and like The (Style) Guide? You’ll love Rue La La. Join now.

November 5, 2013