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by Brittany Matsushita, staff writer

Paris Hilton’s girly, designer wardrobe vs. Avril Lavigne’s punk rock look, may be on opposite ends of the fashion runway, but both depend on their blue jeans for an effortlessly cool look.

Originally named after sailors from Genoa, Italy, denim was made from a cotton, linen, and wool blend. The word “denim” came from the name of a French material, serge de Nimes: serge (a kind of twill-weave) from Nîmes (a town in France). “De Nîmes” can be traced back to the 16th century and came to England by the end of the 17th century. By the 18th century, jeans were made entirely of cotton and were a favorite among workers because the material was extremely strong and did not wear out easily.

The California Gold Rush of 1848 brought a man named Levi Strauss from New York to San Francisco where he set up a wholesale business. Demand from miners for hardwearing work clothes was strong. In 1872 Strauss teamed up with Jacob Davis, who had been making riveted clothing for miners in the Reno area. They began to make copper-riveted “waist-overalls,” as jeans were then known.

A few years later, in 1886 Strauss’s “Two Horse Brand” leather patch, showing the garment pulled between two horses, was introduced. Once established in America, denim was made over with the addition of dyes to the fabrics. Indigo was the most popular color, and it remains a favorite today, thus the name “blue jeans” was first used.

Still the most wanted attire among workers, jeans have now become an icon all their own. Name brand designers are putting jeans at the center of their collections, with a name-brand price. True Religion, Seven, Citizens of Humanity, and Chip & Pepper are the top names in the world of designer denim, all with a price tag ranging from $130-$300. Brands, colors, styles, and prices may have changed since the 18th century, but denim pants are made the same today as they were 150 years ago.

American designer Isaac Mizrahi, a known denim lover, has said in many interviews that women of all shapes, sizes, and styles can always rely on their blue jeans. NzGirl, a fashion retailer, has called denim “The most versatile fabric on the planet, and the most popular.”

Once seen as the “working class” attire, denim has made its mark in fashion history and the 21st century as the garment worn by every social class.

 

 

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