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Denim

From Academic Kids

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Denim.jpg
Part of a pair of denim blue jeans
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Denim closeup

Denim, in American usage since the late 18th century, denotes a rugged cotton twill textile, in which the weft passes under two (twi- "double") or more warp fibers, producing the familiar diagonal ribbing identifiable on the reverse of the fabric, which distinguishes denim from cotton duck. Denim was traditionally colored blue with indigo dye to make blue "jeans," though "jean" denoted a different, lighter cotton textile. In 1789 George Washington toured a Massachusetts factory producing machine-woven cotton denim. In the mid-19th century the durability of hemp cloth, of Cannabis sativa fibers, processed as in making linen, temporarily competed with cotton.

A similarly-woven traditional American cotton textile is the diagonal warp-striped hickory cloth that was once associated with railroadmen's overalls, in which blue or black contrasting with undyed white threads form the woven pattern. Hickory cloth was as rugged as hickory timber and was worn by "hicks." Records of a group of New Yorkers headed for the California gold fields in 1849 show that they took along four "Hickory shirts" apiece. Hickory cloth later furnished some "fatigue" pantaloons and shirts in the American Civil War.

A popular etymology of the word denim is a contraction of serge de Nîmes in France. Serge weave, with a distinctly-twilled diagonal rib, is now more usually associated with sturdy woollen textiles.

Denim and modern culture

Since the mid-1950s denim jeans have consistently been favorites in American youth culture, but have changed style and significance throughout the years.

  • In the 1930s dude ranches became popular, and Easterners and city people saw at first hand the jeans they knew from movie Westerns. The tradition of wearing out former good clothes behind the plow disappeared from American life, as "work clothes" were marketed through Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward catalogs.
  • In the 1940s US Navy servicemen spent the war years in blue denim "dungarees." (Flight suits and fatigues also became familiar comforts to American men.)
  • In the 1950s a "biker" sub-culture among de-mobilized veterans of the Korean War, a tough ("butch") gay subculture in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, the blue-collar style of the Beat generation, widely-seen cult movies starring James Dean and Marlon Brando, and a spate of TV westerns independently made jeans a fixture of American life. Jeans were banned in many US public high schools, adding to their allure.
  • In the 1960s young women began wearing jeans as well as men. Hippie women embroidered colorful designs on theirs and for their men. Button-fly Levi 501s were marketed even on the US East Coast.
  • In 1970 Elio Fiorucci showed "designer jeans" in Milan. In 1978 the first "designer jeans" came onto the US market, marketed with the name of Gloria Vanderbilt. Seasonal novelty variations in jeans were marketed as "design statements". Jeans were being worn by Europeans who were not even radical students. In the Soviet bloc, young American tourists exchanged their jeans for valuable goods.
  • In the 1980s, tight stone-washed and acid-washed jeans were very fashionable.
  • In the 1990s, very baggy jeans were in fashion, as part of the grunge movement.

Denim pants are sold in many different styles: bootcut, relaxed, skinny, straight, baggy, flare, cuffed, cropped, etc.

Denim jackets (or jean jackets), originally worn by cowboys as an alternative to a cotton duck "chore coat," have also gained fashion status since the 1950s. Many pop-culture icons are closely associated with the denim jacket, including:

See also

External links

de:Denim ja:デニム nl:Denim sv:Denim

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