The bottomwear that everyone has- the jeans was invented by Jacob Davis in partnership with Levi Strauss & Co, in 1871.
Our beloved ‘blue jeans’ was invented by Jacob Davis in association with Levi Strauss & Co. in 1871, patented in 1873. It is one fashion item which we cannot do without.
Davis was a tailor who often bought cloth from Levi Strauss & Co. He had proposed to the company that they make clothes with rivets at points where the fabric is most likely to tear off (we still have those small metal buttons on the pockets of the jeans) and the company accepted. That is how the modern ‘jeans’ as we know it came into existence.
The origin of the world ‘jeans’ may come from the French word for Genoa, ‘Genes’. Because it is Genoa, Italy and Nimes in France where the fabric is researched to have originated in. Back then, jeans was available only in one colour – blue. Most of the indigo dye required for the blue colour came from indigo plantations in India.
There is another theory behind the name ‘jeans’. A Swiss-banker whose name was Jean-Gabriel Eynard went to Genoa in 1795 and soon began a company that manufactured jeans. When Massena, a French Military commander entered Genoa, Eynard made uniforms from a fabric called blue-de-genes for him which later came to be known as ‘blue jeans’
The word denim has originated from the French words ‘de Nimes’ meaning from Nimes.
The jeans was originally designed not for the common folk but for cowboys, farmers, workers and miners way before the jeans as we wear today appeared as a fashion icon. This was because of the fabric’s durability and strength.
It was in the 1950s when the clothing became popular among teenagers. The hippies had begun wearing it in the 1960s. In the 1970s and 1980s, those in the punk rock and heavy metal bands began wearing it. By 2010 the jeans had become extremely popular and was available in various fits, styles and colours.
While the jeans is popular and loved by one and all – it has also been the centre of controversy from Rome to India. While we know of numerous Indian cases whether it is related to the Khap Panchayats or accusing the victims of rape for wearing ‘tight clothing’ this particular case in Rome is as queer as it can get.
In 1992, a 45 year old driving instructor was sentenced and convicted for raping an 18 year old girl who had come to him for driving lessons. However the Supreme Court in Italy overturned the conviction when it was found out that the girl had worn jeans and removing that from her person couldn’t have been possible without the girl’s help. The Italian Supreme Court stated in its decision “it is a fact of common experience that it is nearly impossible to slip off tight jeans even partly without the active collaboration of the person who is wearing them.”
In an Indian case, the court ruled that a husband banning his wife from wearing jeans amounts to cruelty and is a ground for divorce. On June 24 2014, Principal Judge of Family Court, Dr Laxmi Rao, granted divorce to the wife on the ground of cruelty as defined under section 27(1)(d) of Special Marriage Act, 1954.
“In view of the averments made in the petition which have gone unchallenged, it can be said that the petitioner has proved her case, hence, she can be granted divorce as prayed by her. Her plea that she was restrained from wearing jeans and kurta amounts to cruelty as defined under the Act”, the judge had held.
If there is one pair of clothing that no one can deny having then it is the jeans.
Long Live the jeans!