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Home > Clothing > Sportswear > Jeans > History

Jeans History

All Purpose Navy Uniform

Jeans were invented for the Italian Navy in Genova, Italy, when that city was an independent republic and a naval power. The first jeans were made for the Genovese Navy because it required an all-purpose pant for its sailors that could be worn wet or dry, and whose legs could easily be rolled-up. They needed something practical for work on deck and for swimming. The jeans would be laundered by dragging them in nets behind the ship and the sea water would bleach them white.

Serge de Nimes, France

The first denim came from Nimes, France, hence the name denim (French: de Nimes). The French word for these pants was very similar to their word for Genova; this is where we get the term 'jeans' today.

Levi Strauss

Jeans were further developed in San Francisco around 1872 by Bavarian-born American Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis. They used copper rivets to reinforce the points of strain, such as on the pocket corners and at the base of the button fly.

Levi's riveted jeans first manufactured in San Francisco starting in the 1870s. They were sold by Levi Strauss to gold miners during the California Gold Rush. Levi's are known for their rugged construction, personal "shrink-to-fit", and versatility. Originally worn by miners, farmers, and cowboys, Levi's are worn and seen in all walks of life.

During World War II, families in the US sent jeans to their sons in the Navy and Marines stationed in the Pacific because their fit was better for swimming than the baggy dungarees issued by the military.

White Levis

Jeans first became popular for swimming in the 1960's with the introduction of "White Levis" for surfers on the West Coast as robust swimwear. White Levis fit lean and tapered, and made of unbleached, un-shrunk denim, which shrank and bleached-out to a perfect white in chlorinated pools and in the ocean.

Wranglers Wet West

Like Levi's, Wranglers jeans will form-fit for swimming, enabling cowboys to ford western rivers or rescue a calf from a river without a second thought about getting wet. The method for fording a river or lake while riding a horse entails either remaining in the saddle while your horse swims across the water, or hanging on to the saddle horn and swimming along side, and re-mounting when you reach the opposite shore.

Wrangler Jeans are traditionally worn as western wear, and are popular among professional cowboys and people who prefer true western style jeans that are good with boots and a cowboy hat. Many a cowboy has cooled off in a stock tank or creek, escaping the summer heat, wearing his Wranglers.

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