Saturday, December 18, 2010

Jeans and a Tshirt: A Classic Refashioned

Whether you refer to this ubiquitous cotton fabric by the name jeans or denim, the origins of the name are from Europe. Italian sailors from Europe (Jeans) and serge de Nimes (a town in France) are considered to be the birth place of these fashion staples. However, denim as not always considered common, fashionable or even made from cotton. According to The History of Jeans, denim wasn't even made from cotton until the 18th century. As cotton production increased denim was produced from slave labor. Cotton in a Global Economy notes that after the invention of the cotton gin the production of cotton exploded from 156,000 bales in 1800 to around 4 million bales 60 years later. As a result of increased production in the United States Great Britain was able to support the entire population on cotton textile production. The birthplace of the Industrial Revolution began cranking out cotton clothing and shipping it all over the United States and Europe. Cotton became inexpensive and easy to produce and jeans began to appear as 100% cotton and dyed with indigo. However, jeans were not seen as a sign of status or high fashion, they were clothes for workers. They grew in popularity thanks to the California gold rush. The miners needed strong, sturdy pants and denim was the answer. The addition of rivets to hold pockets on made them the perfect heavy duty pant. Next, the cowboys starting wearing them, then the rebels without a cause in the 50's and finally the 60's brought flower children and hippies. They wore embroidered, patchwork hand embellished jeans. Jeans grew in popularity and became a symbol of Western decadence (The History of Jeans). Finally, jeans increased in popularity and grew in status through the 80's until finally the development of fashion designer jeans sealed their popularity among everyone from toddlers to The President.

The reasons that jeans became so popular are the very reasons that they are great for refashioning. They are sturdy, easy to embellish and can be found inexpensively anywhere. Everyone owns jeans and designers change the popular style constantly. As a result, literally tons of jeans end up in landfills, thrift stores and the back of people's closets. Luckily there are plenty of books and websites on the topic, so there is no excuse for tossing out those faded blues. So grab a pair of scissors, a little needle and thread and get to work refashioning those indigo cast offs into something fashion forward.

Resources for Denim Refashion:

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