Jeans and Denim Facts

Where do jeans come from?

While the question may not be asked all that often it does cross peoples mind. It was in fact something that occurred to me when I was asked to design this site for TJ’s. Being an IT person I was immediately rummaging through the internet to find the answers.

The story I liked the most was about Levi Strauss who came to San Francisco in 1853.

Levi was only twenty-four when he left New York to open up a branch of his brother’s dry goods business. Over the next twenty years Levi Strauss made a name for himself not only as a well-respected businessman but was also regarded as a Good Samaritan.

OK that’s the background now we really get into the story…

One of Levi’s many customers was a tailor named Jacob Davis who lived in Reno, Nevada. Jacob regularly bought bolts of cloth from Levi Strauss & Co. Among Jacob’s clientele was a really difficult man who kept ripping the pockets of the pants that Jacob made for him. Poor Jacob tried to think of a way to strengthen the man’s trousers and one day hit upon the idea of putting metal rivets at the points of strain such as on the pocket corners and at the base of the button fly.

The riveted pants were an instant hit with Jacob’s customers. Jacob realized that he needed to patent his idea but he didn’t have the $68 to file the papers. Obviously he required a business partner and the obvious person was Levi Strauss his long term supplier, successful business man, and most of all someone who was open and willing to help.

On May 20, 1873, the two men received patent #139,121 from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This is considered by Levi Strauss & Co. as the official “birthday” of blue jeans.

Where does the word ‘denim’ come from?

Many people believe the word “denim” comes from “serge de Nimes,” a fabric made in France sometime in the late 16th century. It should be noted that some scholars are questioning this explanation.

Were Levi jeans the first denim pants?

No denim pants had been around as work wear for many years, it was only when Levi used the rivets to re-enforce the strain points that denim pants became what we know as jeans.

Where does the word ‘jeans’ come from?

It is believed that the word “jeans” may come from “Genoese,” the word for the sturdy pants worn by sailors from Genoa, Italy in and around 1947.

Are Levi jeans the best because they were first?

We suppose this is a matter of opinion but not necessarily. They were defintely the first but there are many other denim jeans brands that are equally good.

What were jeans originally called?

Jeans were originally called “waist overalls.” This was the traditional name for work pants and they were often worn with suspenders.

When did we start calling denim pants jeans?

The term jeans became popular in the early 1960’s when the baby-boom generation adopted the term for its favorite type of pants.

When were the first riveted jeans sold?

Sometime during 1873 or possibly even earlier the first riveted clothing was made and sold.

(Exact date unknown ? information was lost in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire.)

Where did the denim for jeans come from?

Much of the denim for the original riveted work pants came from the Amoskeag Mill in Manchester, New Hampshire.


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