Have you ever wondered how was your favourite jeans made? What processes did they have to go through, so you could buy them and enjoy wearing them at any occassion? Did you know that jeans has been on the market for over 140 years?
If not, then keep on reading! Let me introduce you to brief history of jeans – so fasten your seatbelts 🙂
Jeans are pants made from denim or dungaree cloth. They were invented by Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss in 1873 and a worn still but in a different context. Jeans are named after the city of Genoa in Italy, a place where cotton corduroy, called either jean or jeane, was manufactured. Levi Strauss came from Germany to New York in 1851 to join his older brother who had a dry goods store. In 1853 he heard about Gold Rush in the West so moved to San Francisco to establish Western Branch of the family dry goods business.
What is denim anyway?
Denim is a sturdy cotton warp-faced textile in which the weft passes under two or more warp threads. This twill weaving produces a diagonal ribbing that distinguishes it from cotton duck. While a denim predecessor known as dungaree has been produced in India for hundreds of years, denim itself was first produced in the French city of Nîmes under the name “serge de Nîmes”.
The original blue colour comes from indigo. It’s one of the oldest dyestuffs still in use today; in 2016, a 6000-year-old scrap of fabric dyed with indigo was found in Peru. Indigo used to be ‘natural’ as it was made from plants. These days, however, almost all indigo is synthetic through chemical engineering.
How do they make it?
The making process of denim consists of 5 steps:
- The first stage of making denim is the raw material. And denim is (mostly) made from cotton; a natural fibre that comes from the cotton plant. It’s well-suited for garment production because it’s comfortable, breathable and durable.
- Spinning is the process of turning fibres into yarn. It’s all about making the raw material fibres parallel, and then twisting them. Before the Industrial Revolution, spinning was done by hand. These days, there are two common methods: ring spinning was invented in 1828, so it’s the original way. It gives a soft and uneven yarn, which results in fades with tons of contrast. And that’s a good thing.
- Dyeing is where the yarn gets its colour. It’s done by soaking the yarn in a liquid that contains a dyestuff.
- Weaving is the process of turning yarn into fabric. Two sets of yarn are interlaced at a 90° angle. For classic denim that’s mainly blue on the front and mainly white on the back, the weft yarn that runs across is undyed, and warp yarn that runs downwards is dyed.
- The last stage of making denim is fabric finishing. Put simply, a fabric finish is a treatment that changes the appearance, the touch, or the performance of the fabric. Once a denim comes off the loom, it’s known as ‘loomstate.’ This unfinished denim doesn’t have any dimensional stability. If the fibres are not shrunk back into their original state, the denim will shrink and the legs will twist once the jeans are washed.