Friday, October 8, 2010

Changing Trends, Yet Denim Stays the Same

Posted on 12:15 PM by Gina Colonette

Denim may be a celebrity’s best friend when it comes to staying on trend, but denim trends have come a long way from its working class roots. Denim trends change every year, but one thing stays the same: the versatility of jeans! On the runway and red carpet, celebrities lead the way in the denim revolution.

Skinny jeans and Japanese selvedge denim would be considered trendy these days, but back in the sixteenth century; trendy jeans were those you could do hard labor in. According to James Sullivan’s book "Jeans", the name "denim" comes from the French word serge de Nîmes. It’s a trade term for a cotton-wool blend. "Jean" is a different term. Jean, a blend of cotton, wool and/or silk, was produced in Italy around the same time as denim. Weight and color differences distinguished denim from jeans, but these days the two words are interchangeable.

German cloth manufacturer Levi Strauss brought blue jeans to the United State in the late 1800s.

In 1873, Strauss teamed up with Jacob Davis, a tailor who had been making overalls for local laborers out of duck cloth bought from Levi Strauss and Co. After two patent applications were rejected, Strauss was awarded patent number 139,121.

Nicole Maarja, contributing writer on, says denim has had a huge presence since it gained popularity with people in the U.S. in the 1950s. Celebrities helped make certain jeans trendy during their time of stardom. Celebrity denim icons included: Marlon Brando (1950s), Brooke Shields (1980s), and even Saved By the Bell star Tiffani Theissen (1990s).

The first denim pants may have caught on because of their durability, but through the years that has changed greatly. Some famous denim trends throughout history include:

· Dungarees. Loose fitting work pant with a loop to put your hammer in. (Note: Dungarees do have a separate history from denim but these days both words are used interchangeably, no worries). Dungarees were marketed towards people who did manual labor. Today dungarees are made for people of all ages and socioeconomic statuses.

· Hip-huggers. Tight fitting jeans made for men, women and even children. Fred Segal convinced people these pants were appropriate for children by saying children who wore them were just expressing themselves, which, he claimed, led to better self-esteem. Hip-huggers led to a generation of high waist jeans. Today, the lower the rise the better.

· Bell-bottoms. Wide-legged pants seen in many photos from the 70s. They were first used in the U.S. Navy in 1901and became commercial in the 1960s. Bell-bottoms have been trendy since the 70s, they’ve also been updated. Fashionista Victoria Beckham has been caught wearing these pants in 2010.

There have been many denim trends and there are more to come. What is the trend of denim in your closet?

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