Blog

Themes: Materials – Denim decades

Where would we be without denim jeans? Our old faithful.

It’s hard to imagine that the blue jeans we know today were invented nearly 150 years ago. In 1873, tailor Jacob Devis created a design for durable denim worker trousers. He hit upon the idea of putting copper rivets at the points of strain on trousers to make them last longer. I wonder if he knew back then that the businessman who invested in his idea, Levi Strauss, would become the name we all associate with this timeless garment!

Styling with denim – distressed denim and photo story by students at Waltham Forest College.

Over the late 18th century and first half of 19th century, jeans became a uniform for men and women at work on the land and in the factory. But when actor James Dean rocked up in jeans in 1955’s ‘Rebel Without a Cause’, we saw the birth of youth culture, rebellion and celebrity. And denim has walked hand in hand with the famous every step of the way since. It’s come a long way as a fabric since its birth in Genoa, the Italian city where it was used by sailors to protect goods at the shipyard.

Styling with denim – distressed denim and photo story by students at Waltham Forest College.

So with that in mind, we’ve created a scrapbook charting denim’s evolution from workwear to fashion styling and editorial staple. Hop over to Pinterest and to see how taste and the concept of what is stylish has changed over time. Oh, and there’s a big surprise courtesy of art-history professionals on our first pin!

Denim decades pinboard