Jeans in history, from workers' trousers to status symbols

A brief history of jeans, an icon of world fashion for over a century. From the Genoese origins to the double American paternity, from the inseparable combination with the denim fabric up to the thousand faces of contemporary models.

Cinema, television, theater, art, writing. There is no creative expression that has not borrowed from fashion i jeans, to use them as style symbol and icon. The trousers par excellence, born "as a man" but soon became a unisex legend. A parable of success that has ancient roots and shows no signs of losing strength. Because, even today, jeans trousers are the most popular in men's wardrobes. Indeed, there are men who practically have only those in the closet. The secret of such unshakable passion is undoubtedly there comfort, which over the years has joined a aesthetic appeal ever increasing.

An icon with two Italian fathers and origins 

Few know, but the jeans have Italian origins, at least according to the most accredited historical reconstruction. To be more precise, Genoese. The term jeans, in fact, derives from Jeane o Jannes, which was the way the French, in 1500, called GenoVa. From the then powerful maritime republic, in fact, huge loads of fabrics left every day, destined for all of Europe. Among these, also the moleskin produced in Chieri, blue in color (similar to today's denim), with which the oldest ancestors of jeans were produced.

Officially, however, jeans pants were born only three hundred years later, in United States. The tailor invented them in 1871 Jacob Davis, but the German entrepreneur patents them Levi Strauss, founder of the homonymous company, today a leader in the sale of jeans. The fabric used by Davis and Levi Strauss is the denim. The pants, in fact, must be very resistant, because they are work clothes, especially designed for miners (hence the need to foresee many pockets).

Denim or non-denim, is that the question?

Year after year, the jeans evolve, up to the current line. The essential characteristics that make them easily recognizable are the copper rivets (useful to reinforce the seams), the central metal button and five pockets. The fact that they are made of denim, however, is not essential. Often there is a tendency to confuse the two, while they must be distinguished: jeans are a model of trousers, denim is a fabric. On the other hand, it is undeniable that the two elements are so connected that they can be superimposed. The jeans par excellence are those in denim.

From the factory to the catwalks 

But let's get back to the story. Because in the space of a century, the role of jeans changes radically. Up to World War II, remain a workwear, widespread above all in the United States. In addition to miners, cowboys, farmers and workers wear them. Something begins to change in the 1937, when a pair of jeans ends up on the cover of the fashion magazine (Vogue. The turning point, however, took place in the 50s, when jeans came to the cinema, thanks to two actors who made history: James Dean and Marlon Brando. It is a short step from the big screen to fashion shows. Jeans enter the collections of the greatest designers and take on different faces: sandblasted, satin, faded, even torn. A thousand faces, however, which confirm their popular origins: in jeans, what fascinates is its lived-in appearance, which gives the wearer an aura of seductive roughness.