Can you imagine a world without jeans? They’re so ingrained in the sartorial fabric of our lives, it’s hard to envisage a time when they didn’t exist. The origin of this wardrobe staple, which has, more than any other garment, influenced the way we dress now, is the stuff of folklore. The most oft-told story takes us back to Nîmes in the south of France, in the 1670s, when a dyer by the name of Mr David André developed a durable indigo blue cloth – the precursor to cotton denim – called serge de Nîmes. This eventually became corrupted to “denim” by the English-speaking world.
Later relocating to the port of Genoa in Italy, Mr André began supplying local sailors with tough work trousers made from the cloth, which could withstand the rigours of life at sea. Eventually, many of these salty seadogs – nicknamed Genes on account of their origin – made for America in the 1850s, with the hope of making a quick buck in the Gold Rush. Legend has it that the first pair of cotton-denim jeans was cut from the pattern of a pair of Genoese sailor’s trousers, by a certain Mr Levi Strauss.
Today, of course, jeans are an everyday staple. We’ve become inseparable from them, and learned to love the way each pair develops its own individual character over time. Every stain, crease and rip tells a story. This very personal bond is what prompted the late Mr Andy Warhol to declare, “I want to die with my blue jeans on.” Put simply, a good pair of jeans is a man’s best friend.