The history of denim and what it can teach us
Jeans is rupture, rebellion, youth. For this reason, I ask you to reflect on yourself before buying it. It’s not about how old you are, and no, there isn’t a right age for jeans and a wrong age.
What we wear speaks of us, who we are and who we want to become, fashion is an expression of our time, as our fashion must be an expression of ourselves.
“I often said that I wanted to invent blue jeans: the most spectacular, most practical, most relaxing and informal item. Jeans have expressiveness, sex appeal, simplicity, everything I want in my clothes. ” Yves Saint Laurent
Like the most beautiful stories, jeans too are made of ingenuity and randomness . Before introducing the origin of this iconic garment, it is good to start from the meaning of the term .
The word Jean dates back to the 19th century and derives from the crippling of Gênes , a term used in French to indicate the city of Genoa .
The invention of jeans is not American, as is often thought, but Italian .
It all started thanks to the special request of a woman, who asked the tailor Jacob Davis to make resistant trousers for her husband. A woodcutter.
The trousers are resistant and comfortable for carrying out heavy tasks. The workers could not ask for better.
Where does this new fabric come from? cotton plays a fundamental role in the birth of jeans. In the twelfth century it spread to Europe replacing linen because of its greater resistance and greater brilliance in colors. After various finishing operations, a yarn is created which takes the name of moleskin , then renamed denim . The practical and resistant fabric par excellence.
The fortune of this garment is precisely the hometown: Genoa, as well as the main port of the Mediterranean, in direct connection with the United States.
With the great emigrations, around the nineteenth century, the blue canvas of Genoa arrives in America thanks to the entrepreneur Levi Strauss , where it is used to create work clothes for miners , sold in a shop in San Francisco inaugurated in 1873 .
From that period until the Second World War jeans remained exclusively a work suit. The turning point came after the end of the conflict, when jeans turned into leisurewear.
It is important to know the origin of such an everyday item, how simple clothing has reached anyone: all social classes, ages and genders.
History is important and part of its importance is also given by the errors that it can teach in the present. For this reason, it is necessary to know how, everyone in his own small way, can act to make this item of clothing something that evolves over time and learns from his mistakes.
You are wondering: what mistakes has denim made?
“The amount of water necessary for the production of a pair of jeans is equivalent to the water requirement for 100 days of life of a person who lives in west and one year of a person living in southern Sahara. “
Here is the answer. To produce a single pair of jeans, 3,800 liters of water and 18.3 kW / h of electricity must be used. At the end of the production process, a single denim trousers are guilty of 33.4 kg of carbon dioxide.
The real question is: can we afford it?
Well, I would say no. Jeans production is approximately three billion pieces per year and equals forty-two billion dollars per year.
Every person in the world owns about six pairs of jeans , perhaps the most versatile garment that modern history of clothing has known.
History also teaches that on average the making of a pair of jeans involves about 12 countries .
Take for example a factory in Tunisia where the garment is assembled:
- Cotton comes from the Mali;
- Indigo blue, which gives the typical color of the jeans needed for dyeing, comes from Germany ;
- The copper for the making of the buttons comes from Namibia ;
- The zinc for the bolts comes from Australia ;
- The stones needed to fade them artfully come from Turkey ;
- The zipper comes from Japan .
In an era where supporting local production is crucial , can we really afford to finance industries whose only purpose is profit?
In recent years, thanks to investigations and documentaries that denounce the fast-fashion industries, many companies have chosen to push more towards a more ethical and environmentally friendly and healthful production of denim garments. workers.
The surge in quality of materials and production techniques has certainly influenced the price of these garments.
The temptation to save a few euros must give way to the thought that by fueling this market we are going towards a self-destruction of our ecosystem and also of us human beings.
Small businesses and emerging environmentally conscious designers will never be able to compete with the price of a garment made in the basement by the hands of a child who cannot read or write.
It is necessary to reflect on one’s future and to offer a charitable look towards those who are less fortunate than us and this does not mean that it deserves to be exploited in order to allow us to buy one more item.
How can we, in our own small way, commit ourselves? Here are some tips:
– Choose ethical brands that make explicit use of organic material.
– Purchase local or otherwise made in Italy .
– Wash your jeans as little as possible and at low temperatures, perhaps keeping them turned in the washing machine.
– Do not throw away old, broken or unused denim. Remember the origin of denim as an extremely resistant and perfectly reusable material as a raw material.
Jeans have had the merit of overcoming the innumerable social differences that characterize our world. We can no longer turn away, the facts are objective and evident. We do justice to a boss rich and full of history, let’s honor him , we don’t allow him to destroy us.
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