Fashion: Do It In Denim

13 March 2013


As one of the world's oldest fabrics, denim is still able to connote youth and fun continuing to be popular with the younger generation of today. Diesel, Levi's, Guess and True Religion - to name but a few - are major fashion labels that work with and manipulate the fabric to make it something new and highly fashionable. Levi Strauss describes denim as more than just a cotton fabric, 'it inspires strong opinions within the hearts of historians, designers, teenagers, movie stars, reporters and interest bordering on passion.' 

Starting life as a humble fabric - it was mainly worn by factory workers and pioneers - the interest in denim has grown along with its price tag. In the early twentieth century it started to move away from the factories and into the 'regular' American's wardrobe, as the popularity of midwestern culture grew so did denim. Big brand Lee began working with rodeo star Turk Greenough and with the help of Turk's wife they created a more fitted jean, the boot cut was born.

As cultures began to change in the 1950s so did the way denim was worn, it was now time for the youth to become hooked. Marlon Brando made the tight jean cool, it made the young feel fearless and adults felt afraid when they saw them - denim was even banned in some American classrooms. Levi's decided to start selling their jeans nationally and changed their products from 'overalls' to 'jeans' to keep their younger customers interested.


When people look back in denim's history, it is the 1960's 'Summer of Love' that sticks in their minds and the flare that was the jean of choice. With a different fit brands started to customise their denim with beading and embroidery to add a personal touch to the fabric, the era of psychedelic music, drugs and self expression was being personified with their jeans. The 1970s saw denim being brought to a wider audience, now huge in Europe and Japan brands were using celebrities to sell their products. A young Brooke Shields was the face of a provocative Calvin Klein advertisement that was banned from some television channels.

After the excitement of denim in past decades, the 90s was a lull for even the top brands. Levi's had to shut 11 of its stores as their garments just weren't selling. But, as with every decade, along came another subculture - Hip Hop. The genre started to move into the mainstream and brought with it a fresh take on the fabric, artists such as De La Soul and Gang Starr were wearing baggy denim jeans and the youth were once again falling in loving with it.

The 21st Century sees denim staying as popular as ever. Cut off shorts are the norm for a summer festival goer, oversized denim jackets reek of vintage 80s nostalgia and the baggy 'boyfriend' jean seems to be the fit of choice, this summer season particularly. Individuals are buying the fabric second hand and manipulating it themselves; bleaching, dip-dye and distressing are all ways to give the old fabric a fresh look.

As long as designers keep mixing it up with denim and vintage fashion stays 'in fashion' then I think we are all going to be wearing denim for decades to come. 


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