August 09, 2012
The word denim originates from the French serge de Nimes, a fabric that originated in France during the Middle Ages. In the late 1800's, Webster's Dictionary began listing the English version, DENIM.
In 19th century America, denim was used to make work clothes - typically overalls worn by painters and mechanics, constructed of blue denim. The fabric provided both durability and comfort for laborers whose jobs required frequent movement. In 1817, the U.S. Navy introduced bell-bottomed trousers so men could easily roll up their pants above the knee when washing down the decks, and to make it easier to remove them quickly if they were forced to abandon ship. In 1901, naval regulations officially authorized the use of denim tops and trousers.
From the 1930's through the 1960's, denim and buckskin clothing as seen in Western films continued to popularize this rugged fabric. Movie star cowboys sporting denim were all the rage, then in the 1950's, with the release of Rebel Without a Cause, denim became a symbol of youth rebellion. Some schools in the U.S. even banned students from wearing denim at the time, deeming it to somehow be a bad influence on a student's character. Pouting teenagers across America were sent home by teachers in droves to change into "something more appropriate."
Fast forward to today. Still rooted in the notion of hardy individualism, denim has made a comeback with designers from Paris to Milan to New York to our own Lexington, Kentucky. Our Denim Wide Legs Pants offer freedom of movement and a certain je ne sais quoi.
Have you ever protested a school dress code? Scoffed at suggested attire? And, if so, did the occasion make history?