Since its inception, jeans have experienced a steady rise, to become the symbol of Western society, used fundamentally in all countries of the world, in all social classes and widespread in all age groups. The use of jeans by many populations represents a great social revolution, without distinctions of races or religions, extended at a global level and establishing equality between races and sexes, suppressing the distinctions between the various social classes.
The denim or jeans fabric is a compound of cotton and nylon, whose diagonal weaving makes it a particularly robust fabric and suitable for the production of workwear. Its birth, dating back to around the 15th century, marks the beginning of the decline of fustagno, a robust fabric dyed in blue with woad, which at the time was produced in Piedmont.
The terms denim and jeans are two synonyms used for this type of fabric and each is attributed a theory, never really confirmed, concerning the respective origin. In fact, the former would take its name from the city of Nîmes in France, once called 'Serge de Nîmes', while the latter would indicate the crippling derived from the ancient term 'Jeane' or 'Jannes' used to name the city of Genoa, where the ‘Genoa canvas’ was produced. The port of the Genoese city was, in fact, one of the largest in Europe and from there departed the ships loaded with this fabric, directed all over the world, including America. Initially these fabrics were made out of cotton, or cotton mixed with linen and hemp, and were dyed with indigo: a natural dye that, with the succession of washes, faded. Until 1890, the classic blue color was not the only one used in the production of jeans, in fact the khaki was used equally.
In the 19th-century United States, the production of denim clothing and work materials is becoming increasingly impressive. In 1853, following the discovery of gold in California, the German entrepreneur Levi Strauss founded in San Francisco the textile company Levi Strauss & Co., known today with the brand Levi’s, with the idea of selling useful clothing to gold seekers. These garments were initially not very resistant and uncomfortable, so Strauss tried to improve their quality using denim. The five pockets model of the jeans produced by Levi Strauss, was made with bolts to reinforce the seams, also aimed not to waste the fabric and to make it adhere to the body through some precautions, such as the triangular beret placed in the back.
To the tailor Jacob Davis, on the other hand, we owe the patent of copper rivets that had the task of strengthening the tightness of pants and pockets. This idea led to the elimination of metal buttons, while only in the early '50s, the buttons used for lacing will be replaced by a zip. At the end of the exclusivity for patent of rivets, there are many companies that want to reproduce that garment, from here in fact, we will see the birth of other brands known today in the jeans market, such as Wrangler (ex Blue Bell) and Lee.
In Europe, Levi’s jeans arrive with American allies between the late 1940s and the early 1950s, as retirement clothing for the military and immediately become very successful: in the eyes of europeans they represent a very strong symbol of freedom and wealth.
In America, jeans are instead used both for work and leisure until the middle of the ‘50s when, the younger generations take possession of it and make it a subversive leader, son of ‘Rock and Roll’, which represents the first phenomenon of counter-fashion. This ideal of rebellion is then celebrated with the cinema: by Marlon Brando, in ‘The Wild One', who, with his outfit, redefines the idea of men’s jeans, giving it a spirit of revolt, until James Dean renews this ideal in the film ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ becoming the model of a whole generation.
In the musical field instead, to personify the archetype of rebel hero, stands the figure of rock singer Elvis Presley. Ironically, although he used to wear them in advertising campaigns and movies, Elvis did not really like jeans. For him, as for most people from the working world, they were in fact only a call to hard work and poverty.
The real consecration of men’s jeans, however, comes in 1968. We are at the height of the youth riots with student protests and the Vietnam War, and in response to the growing development of this fashion, many middle-class high schools ban the jeans, considered too 'dangerous' for the ideals of that time. American teenagers from all walks of life flocked to embrace this look, contributing to a social revolution, and despite being radically anti-American, continued to wear what was one of the most emblematic symbols of the United States.
These nonconformist young people, following the anthem of 'Peace and Love', apply flowers and colorful designs to their denim, making them the symbol of the ‘hippies’ movement. Thanks to the creative spirit of the latter, 'elephant’s foot', frayed, broad at the calf and tight at the waist jeans are spread. The Levi’s 501 model represents the protest uniform and will be the predominant color in the photos of 1969’s Woodstock Festival. Today, the most concrete example of this fashion between the '60s and '70s' can be found in Gucci jeans for men. The latter in fact follow the aesthetic canons of that era and represent the perfect harmony between contemporary creativity and classical elegance.
In the same years, in Italy, the jeans by Roy Roger’s, distributed by the Florentine company Manifatture 7 Bell, are a must-have. These become famous for the characteristic of the five pockets and zippers on the back pockets.
Denim impresses with such force its personality in a creative and revolutionary era like the 70s and, with the decline of the dispute, the various brands take possession of it to make it an elegant garment. Calvin Klein’s jeans are the first to be part of this change and were launched on the market in 1978 through a provocative advertising campaign starring a young Brooke Shields.
Around 1970, in England, on the other hand, the phenomenon of ‘Punk’ becomes popular: an anarchist movement that creates a rift with contemporary society. The followers of this movement overturn the predominant aesthetic models, taking inspiration from the jeans collections by Vivienne Westwood, founder and icon par excellence of punk, which brings mainly dark denim on the catwalk, worn and torn at the knees.
Starting from 1980, with the advent of the 'yuppism', any clothing company produces at least one of its own line: with the advent of jeans by Versace, Valentino, up to denim by Trussardi, this model becomes a luxury object, ennobled and made expensive by the label of well-known designers. Bourgeois men combine it with suits and ties and thus create a form of compromise between different generations.
In Italy the groups of young people are distinguished according to the brand they wear: the ‘paninari' mainly dress the jeans by Armani or Wrangler, short up to the ankle and with the lapel; the ‘freeks' wear the denim of Lee; other groups less defined instead, go back to classic Levi’s.
A major influence of this period, which helped men’s jeans to have a global popularity, no longer confined to the North American continent, is definitely the album ‘Born in the U.S.A.’ of 1984, by Bruce Springsteen. The cover of this record depicts the singer’s backside wearing a pair of Levi’s denim, which stand out from the background of an American flag. This becomes involuntarily an advertisement that promotes American culture and leads the rest of the world to aspire to the American dream, marked by the ideals of freedom, success and money, represented by blue jeans.
In the ‘90s, other fashion houses entered the jeans market and vintage versions were popularized, giving a feeling of lived-in denim: one example is Dior’s jeans along with those of Dolce & Gabbana. The industries are looking for methods to soften and age the fabric with the aim of making these pants, although just out of the factory, as worn. According to the dictates of this fashion, the more the jeans are torn, unsheathed and unhinged, the more they acquire aesthetic value.
The washing processes that recreate this idea of deterioration vary from stone washed (washing with pumice stone or other material), through sandblasting (a sanding of the fabric with sand), up to automatic brushing (intervention with abrasive brushes).
When it comes to the ‘90s also, you cannot fail to mention the incredible rise of Diesel jeans that dominated the denim scene in that period with their TV commercials. Collaborating with the most influential photographers of the moment such as David Lachapelle, Terry Richardson, Ellen von Unwerth or Erwin Olaf, the Italian brand has been at the forefront thanks to its extraordinary marketing, both in paper and television advertising. In 1995 the brand launched one of the most popular and provocative campaigns ever: the latter portrays two sailors kissing during the celebrations of the end of World War II.
Nowadays, men’s jeans are the first globalised item par excellence. In 1999, Time magazine selected it as the most important garment of the 20th century, as this garment, practical, unisex and homogeneous, meant that clothing differentiated by social classes, age and sex, was at least partially abolished.
Finding the perfect jeans means getting a piece of clothing suitable for any situation. It is in fact an excellent passepartout of the men’s wardrobe. The main aspect, to take absolutely into consideration in this case, is definitely the cut.
Among all the men’s jeans, those that we can say that go for the most, being ideal for both a casual and sophisticated style, are the slim-fit. At the top of the denim food chain, this model continues to be worn regularly since its inception, especially by young people. This trend is due to their comfort and their predisposition to be matched with any other garment. You can wear them with a printed T-shirt, a polo shirt or a crew neck sweater. Often conceived in comfortable stretch cotton, the jeans by Dondup add a contemporary note to any look and offer a versatile basis for the realization of an outfit suitable for every man.
The skinny jeans are characterized by medium waist, super tight cut and tight to the ankle, and dresses like a brush who has rather thin legs. It is made of a stretch fabric that allows you to feel comfortable in your movements. The fit of skinny jeans goes well with different looks: both casual/street style with t-shirt, even oversized, or shirt, or with a more elegant look, combining it with lace-up shoes and suit's jackets. In this regard, the Saint Laurent men’s jeans collection represents the perfect combination of irresistibly charming lines and the comfort of stretch fabric, managing to give an elegant, casual and sophisticated soul to this garment.
Also called cigarettes-fit, straight jeans are the "jeans par excellence". It is a super classic model, neither too wide, nor too tight. They do not adhere to the leg and have a cut and a regular fit. A classic example are Prada men’s jeans, which always provide a versatility that perfectly embodies the essence of what this garment represents: between comfort and resistance is suitable for both the frenzy of the city and for outdoor adventures.
If you are looking for a less common cut and more oriented towards the world of streetwear, you should instead rely on wide legs jeans. Featuring a wide leg and waist, a relaxed fit and a lower crotch than traditional models, these jeans are the ideal choice for comfort. Combined with a pair of sneakers and a sweatshirt, GCDS jeans for men fully demonstrate an urban atmosphere for an irreverent interpretation of this style son of the 90s'.
Jeans are the garment that perhaps more than any other is the subject of style exercises by designers around the world. "I only have one regret: I did not invent jeans," Yves Saint Laurent said in an interview with the New Yorker. "They have character, modesty, sex appeal and simplicity. All I wish for my clothes".
If one of the greatest fashion creators of the 20th century says so, there must be a foundation of truth!