Just about everyone wears jeans – blue, black, white, and other colors, though blue is the most common color. Interestingly, jeans came about as the result of a landmark event in history – the California Gold Rush. One of the men who followed the rush to California was a German named Levi Strauss, who came looking not for gold, but for customers. The miners needed good, durable clothing for their heavy work, and Strauss used tent canvas to make pants. About a decade later, he switched to a heavy-duty fabric called denim. It was a French fabric, originally called serge de Nimes, which was gradually corrupted into the simple word “denim”. The denim was blue since dye, indigo, was easy to obtain and was cheap. This dye lasts a long time, no matter how often the pants are laundered (and, given that the pants were worn in the gold mines, it is doubtful that they were laundered on a regular basis).
Levi got the idea for the design of the jeans from the pants worn by sailors from Genoa. These pants included flared legs, which fit well over the miners’ (and other men’s) work boots.
In the 1870s, Levi Strauss partnered with a tailor named Jacob Davis to apply for a patent on Davis’s new invention, copper rivets to be used as reinforcements for weak areas in the design (for example, the corners of the pockets).
In those early years, Levi jeans were a popular clothing item for blue-collar workers. Factory workers, loggers, ranchers, farmers, laborers, and cowboys all wore them. In the 1890s, the company came up with its most popular and best-known design: Levi’s 501 jeans. These were, by far, the best-selling item in the Levi Strauss line. In the 19th century, jeans were worn predominantly by men, but a few trailblazing women outfitted themselves in them and joined the men at work on farms and ranches.
In the 1930s, women began to wear Levi’s as a fashion statement, rather than as an informal work uniform. That decade, jeans were finally offered in women’s clothing stores, along with Western boots. They were already being worn by children as play clothing, and with the gradual acceptance of women in pants, jeans finally made an impact on women’s wear. In the 1950s, both girls and women wore jeans on a regular basis, though they remained casual clothing, not for formal occasions.