Denim Styles Through The Years

It’s safe to say we have experienced a denim revolution over the past century. Clothing has always reflected the needs of the consumer, and none is more true than with jeans.

The now global fashion staple dates back to the late 19th century, and was actually designed as durable attire for farm and mine workers in the American West.

http://fortune.com/2015/05/21/levi-strauss-anniversary/

Some of the oldest jeans which date back to the 1880’s fortune.com

The initial success of these pants were thought to be due the unique aging quality of denim. Over time the indigo dye – which gave jeans their strong blue color – would fade.  Meaning that the more someone wore their jeans the softer they became. It was as if clothes told a story of the person wearing them.

A pair of well-worn color-faded jeans showed that the wearer was one of hard-work, honest-labor, dedication, and values.

How things have changed.

Let’s fast-forward to present day. An honest and hard-days work has gone from plowing the fields to sitting at a desk. Thus, the work-wear of the modern laborer has clearly been adapted. The effort of developing an app doesn’t show on a pair of jeans the way chopping a week’s worth of firewood did.

So, how did we go from the heavy-duty, ultra-durable jeans of the late 1800’s to the mass produced, lightweight, legging-esq denim of today?

1950’s

What really connected denim and mainstream culture? Hollywood. First, in the 1930’s  the massive success of Hollywood Western films glorified the cowboy lifestyle, and  jeans were front and center. Then in the 1950’s films personifying “bad boys” and “rebels” catapulted jeans to a new level. Young teens were running out to buy jeans in order to look “mean” like James Dean or Marlon Brando. That’s right denim went from symbolizing hard-work to youth rebellion as they made their transition into mainstream culture.

James Dean movie poster classicfilmsreloaded.com

James Dean as a “bad boy”
classicfilmsreloaded.com

 

1960’s

When the 1960’s rolled around radical social movements called for the rejection of the establishment. As such, many middle and upper-class Americans participating in social protests would wear jeans in order to show solidarity with the working class.

 

Vietnam Protest - 1967 www.cnn.com

Vietnam Protest – 1967
www.cnn.com

1970’s

By the 70’s denim was the style de-jour, with wide leg flare matching perfectly with the emerging disco scene as well as complementing the free-spirited rockers, hippies, and beatniks. 

john Lennon circa 1974 kricketysplit.deviantart.com

John Lennon circa 1974
kricketysplit.deviantart.com

1980’s

The 80’s brought us fabulous denim on denim trends, and of course acid wash – think Madonna! Punk culture had begin to influence mainstream fashion culture, and as such hemlines went from loose and flowing to structured and severe. 

Madonna blog.bonds.com.au

Madonna
blog.bonds.com.au

1990’s

By then end of the millennium jeans were everywhere, and once the 90’s rolled in denim were such a staple that the style of jeans ranged from bells,  urban-chic, to high-rise mom jeans. And, as hip-hop culture gained traction so to did the effortless style. Everyone embraced denim as a fashion staple and their range of designs transcend one specific social group.

Aaliyah https://www.pinterest.com

2000’s

The 00’s  weren’t fashion’s best decade. Though they did succeed in bringing us the skinny jean, but really how can we forget the ultra-low rise flare? 

Christina Aguilera fashionjournal.com.au

Today

We are well into the second decade of the new millennium and it’s clear that jeans are everywhere. But, what’s so specific about modern times is the versatility of style. There is not one specific model of denim that signifies how far we’ve come. From a boyfriend-cut to retro styles, denim is a force to be reckoned with and we can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Denim Trends 2015 www.theblondesalad.com

Denim Trends 2015
www.theblondesalad.com