A Short Story Of Denim Essay

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Denim is more than merely a cotton cloth ; it inspires strong sentiments within the Black Marias of historiographers. interior decorators. adolescents. film stars. newsmans and authors. Interest surrounding on passion can be found among fabric and costume historiographers today. particularly in the argument over the true beginnings of jean. These experts have put decennaries of work into their research ; here are summarized the prevailing sentiments about the birth of jean. followed by a treatment of the manner Levi Strauss & A ; Co. has helped to lend to denim’s motion around the universe. In 1969 a author for American Fabrics magazine declared. Denim is one of the world’s oldest cloths. yet it remains everlastingly immature. ” If uninterrupted usage of and involvement in an point makes it eternally young” so denim surely qualifies. From the seventeenth century to the present. jean has been woven. used and discarded ; made into upholstery. bloomerss and sunshades ; found in museums. lofts. old-timer shops and archeological digs ; worn as the cloth of difficult honest work. and as the look of angry rebellion ; used for the canvass of Columbus’ ships in fable ; and worn by American cowpunchers in fact.
Legend and fact are besides interwoven when bookmans discuss the beginning of the name denim itself. Most mention books say that jean is an English corruptness of the Gallic serge de Nimes ; ” a serge cloth from the town of Nimes in France. However. some bookmans have begun to oppugn this tradition. There are a few schools of idea with respect to the derivation of the word denim. ” Pascale Gorguet-Ballesteros. of the Musee de la Mode et du Costume in Paris. has done some interesting research on both of these issues. A cloth called serge de Nimes. ” was known in France prior to the seventeenth century. At the same clip. there was besides a cloth known in France as nim. ” Both cloths were composed partially of wool. Serge de Nimes was besides known in England before the terminal of the seventeenth century.
The inquiry so arises: is this cloth imported from France or is it an English cloth bearing the same name? Harmonizing to Ms. Gorguet-Ballesteros. cloths which were named for a certain geographic location were frequently besides made elsewhere ; the name was used to impart a certain seal to the cloth when it was offered for sale. Therefore a serge de Nimes” purchased in England was really likely besides made in England. and non in Nimes. France. There still remains the inquiry of how the word denim” is popularly thought to be descended from the word serge de Nimes. ”
Serge de Nimes was made of silk and wool. but jean has ever been made of cotton. What we have here once more. I think. is a relation between cloths that is in name merely. though both cloths are a twill weave. Is the existent beginning of the word jean serge de nim. ” intending a cloth that resembled the part-wool cloth called nim? Was serge de Nimes more well-known. and was this word mistranslated when it crossed the English Channel? Or. did British merchandisers decide to give a alert Gallic name to an English cloth to give it a bit more cachet? It’s likely we will ne’er truly cognize.
Then. to confound things even more. there besides existed. at this same clip. another cloth known as jean. ” Research on this fabric indicates that it was a fustian – a cotton. linen and/or wool blend and that the bombast of Genoa. Italy was called denim ; here we do see grounds of a cloth being named from a topographic point of beginning. It was seemingly rather popular. and imported into England in big measures during the sixteenth century. By the terminal of this period denim was being produced in Lancashire. By the eighteenth century denim fabric was made wholly of cotton. and used to do men’s vesture. valued particularly for its belongings of lastingness even after many lavations. Denim’s popularity was besides on the rise. It was stronger and more expensive than denim. and though the two cloths were really similar in other ways. they did hold one major difference: jean was made of one colored yarn and one white yarn ; denim was woven of two togss of the same colour.
Traveling across the Atlantic. we find American fabric Millss get downing on a little graduated table at this same clip. the late eighteenth century. largely as a manner to go independent from foreign manufacturers ( chiefly the English ) . From the really get downing. cotton cloths were an of import constituent of their merchandise line. A mill in the province of Massachusetts wove both jean and denim. President George Washington toured this factory in 1789 and was shown the machinery which wove jean. which had both deflections and fill of cotton. One of the first printed mentions to the word denim” in the United States was seen in this same twelvemonth: a Rhode Island newspaper reported on the local production of jean ( among other cloths ) . The book The Weavers Draft Book and Clothiers Assistant. published in 1792. contains proficient studies of the weaving methods for a assortment of jeans. In 1864. an East Coast sweeping house advertised that it carried 10 different sorts of jean. including New Creek Blues” and Madison River Browns. ” ( They sound instead modern-day. don’t they?
Another illustration of jean looking eternally immature. ” ) Webster’s Dictionary of the same twelvemonth contained the word denim. ” mentioning to it as a harsh cotton boring used for overalls. etc. ” Research shows that denim and jean were two really different cloths in 19th century America. They besides differed in how they were used. In 1849 a New York vesture maker advertised greatcoats. waistcoats or short jackets in chestnut. olive. black. white and bluish denim. All right pants were offered in bluish denim ; overalls and pants made for work were offered in bluish and fancy jean. Other American advertizements show working work forces have oning vesture that illustrates this difference in use between denim and jean. Mechanicss and painters wore overalls made of bluish jean ; working work forces in general ( including those non engaged in manual labour ) wore more trim pants made of denim. Denim. so. seems to hold been reserved for work apparels. when both lastingness and comfort were needed. Jean was a workwear cloth in general. without the added benefits of jean as I merely mentioned.
In Staple Cotton Fabrics by John Hoye. published in 1942. denim is listed as a cotton serge with deflection and weft of the same colour. used for overalls. work and athletics shirts. physicians and nurses uniforms and as liners for boots and places. Of jean. Hoye says. The most of import cloth of the work-clothing group is denim. Jeans are strong and serviceable ; they are peculiarly strong in the warp way. where the cloth is subjected to greater wear than the filling. ”
Twenty old ages after this was written. the magazine American Fabrics ran an article which stated. If we were to utilize a human term to depict a fabric we might state that jean is an honorable cloth – significant. forthright. and unpretentious. ” So how did this useful and unpretentious cloth go the material of fables that it is today? And how did bloomerss made out of jean come to be called denims. when they were non made out of the cloth called denim? One really of import ground can be found in the life and work of a Bavarian-born man of affairs who made his manner to Gold Rush San Francisco more than 150 old ages ago.
Levi’s® denims. of class. are named for the laminitis of the company that makes them. A batch of people over the old ages have thought that Levi Strauss & A ; Co. was started by a Mr. Levi and a Mr. Strauss ; or even by the Gallic philosopher/anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss. The truth is. the company was founded by a adult male born as Loeb” Strauss in Bavaria in 1829. He. his female parent and two sisters left Germany in 1847 and sailed to New York. where Loeb’s stepbrothers were in concern selling sweeping dry goods ( bolts of fabric. linens. vesture. etc. ) . For a few old ages. immature Loeb Strauss worked for his brothers. and in 1853 obtained his American citizenship. In that same twelvemonth. he decided to do a new start and set about the risky journey to San Francisco. a metropolis basking the benefits of the recent Gold Rush.
At age 23. Loeb either decided to travel into the dry goods concern for himself ( possibly believing that the easiest manner to do money during a Gold Rush was to sell supplies to mineworkers ) . or he was sent at that place by his brothers. in order to open the West Coast subdivision of the household concern. No affair what the ground. San Francisco was the sort of metropolis where people went to reinvent themselves and their lives. and this proved to be true for Loeb. who changed his name to Levi” sometime around 1850. – for which we should be thankful. or else today we would wholly be have oning Loeb’s Jeans. ” We don’t cognize how immature Levi Strauss got his concern off the land ; what his thought was ; if he travelled into the gilded state in hunt of clients. because LS & A ; CO. lost virtually all of its records. stock list. and exposure in the great San Francisco temblor and fire of 1906. This has led to many jobs for company officers. research workers. and surely those interested in LS & A ; CO. ’s history.
Head of these is delving up the true narrative of the innovation of bluish denims. and dividing popular myth from historical world. For decennaries. the narrative ran like this: Levi Strauss arrived in San Francisco. and noticed that mineworkers needed strong. hardy bloomerss. So he took some brown canvas from the stock of dry goods supplies he brought with him from New York. and had a seamster make a brace of bloomerss. Subsequently. he dyed the cloth blue. so switched to denim. which he imported from Nimes. He got the thought of adding metal studs to the bloomerss from a seamster in Reno. Nevada. and patented this procedure in 1873. Fortunately. the company obtained transcripts of the patent documents for the riveting procedure a figure of old ages ago so we know that Jacob Davis. the Nevada seamster. did come up with this thought and worked with Levi Strauss to fabricate riveted vesture. However. the brown canvas bloomerss narrative is truly merely an attractive myth.
This narrative probably arose because grounds had been found of some brown bloomerss made of a heavy stuff which the company sold in the nineteenth century. However. historical research done at establishments in the San Francisco country provides us with the truth within the myth. Levi Strauss was a sweeping dry goods merchandiser get downing with his reaching in San Francisco in 1853. He sold the common dry goods merchandises. including dressing whose makers are unluckily unknown to us. Levi worked difficult. and acquired a repute for quality merchandises over the following two decennaries. In 1872 he got a missive from seamster Jacob Davis. who had been doing riveted vesture for the mineworkers in the Reno country and who purchased fabric from Levi Strauss & A ; Co.
He needed a concern spouse to assist him acquire a patent and get down to fabricate this new type of work vesture. Well. Levi knew a good concern chance when he saw one. and in 1873 LS & A ; CO. and Davis received a patent for an Improvement in Fastening Pocket-Openings. ” Equally shortly as the two work forces got their fabrication installation under manner. they began to do Cu riveted waist overalls” ( which is the old name for denims ) out of a brown cotton duck. and a bluish jean. It’s likely that a brace of these duck bloomerss ( which survived the 1906 fire ) confused early historiographers of the company. as duck expressions and feels like canvas. The jean. nevertheless. was true bluish. Of class. Levi did non dye any brown fabric blue. as the myth has proclaimed. nor did he buy it from Nimes. Knowing that the riveted bloomerss were traveling to be perfect for workwear. it’s probably he decided to do them out of jean instead than denim for the grounds mentioned earlier: jean was what you used when you needed a really hardy cloth for vesture to be worn by work forces making manual labour.
The jean for the first waist overalls came from the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company in Manchester. New Hampshire. on the East Coast of the United States. This country. known as New England. was the site of the first American fabric Millss. and by 1873 their cloths were wellknown and well-made. Amoskeag was incorporated in 1831 and their jean production dated to the mid-1860s ( this being the clip of the American Civil War. the company besides manufactured guns for a few old ages ) . In 1914 an article about the association between LS & A ; CO. and Amoskeag appeared in the mill’s ain newspaper. It read in portion. In malice of the many cheaper classs offered in competition. the sale of the Amoskeag jean garment has kept up due in portion to the superior jean used in its building and in portion to superior craft such as run uping with linen yarn. etc.
Doubtless the Amoskeag jean has contributed in no little grade to the success of Levi Strauss & A ; Co. and. in return. that concern has contributed in an equal grade to the success of Amoskeag jeans. advertisement as it does. their high quality over all other jeans. ” At Levi Strauss & A ; Co. . the duck and denim waist overalls were turn outing to be the success that Jacob Davis had predicted. Levi Strauss was now the caput of both a dry goods wholesaling and garment fabrication concern. In add-on to the waist overalls. the company made jackets and other outer wear out of jean and duck ; they besides branched out into shirts of field or printed muslin. Levi Strauss died in 1902. at the age of 73.
He left his thriving concern to his four nephews Jacob. Louis. Abraham and Sigmund Stern – who helped reconstruct the company after the catastrophe of 1906. The earliest lasting catalog in the Archives shows a fantastic assortment of jean merchandises for sale. Within a few old ages. it became obvious to the Stern brothers that they needed a new beginning of jean. Near the terminal of the nineteenth century Amoskeag and other New England Millss had begun to see a slow diminution. due to competition from Millss in the southern provinces. higher labour and transit costs. outdated edifices and equipment and high revenue enhancements. The demand for waist overalls was so great that LS & A ; CO. needed a more dependable method of obtaining the cloth they needed. Interestingly. by around 1911 the company had stopped doing garments out of cotton duck.
It’s possible that this was due to client penchant: one time person had worn a brace of denim bloomerss. sing its strength and comfort – and how the jean became more comfy with every rinsing – he ne’er wanted to have on duck once more ; because with cotton duck. you ever feel like you’re have oning a collapsible shelter. By 1915 the company was purchasing the bulk of its jean from Cone Mills. in North Carolina ( by 1922 all the jean came from Cone ) . Founded in 1891. it was the centre of denim production in America by the bend of the century. Cone developed the jean which brought Levi’s ® jeans their greatest celebrity during the undermentioned decennaries. By the 1920s. Levi’s® waist overalls were the taking merchandise in men’s work bloomerss in the Western provinces. Enter the 1930s – when Western films and the West in general captured the American imaginativeness.
Authentic cowpunchers have oning Levi’s® denims were elevated to mythic position. and Western vesture became synonymous with a life of independency and rugged individuality. Denim was now associated less frequently with labourers in general. and more as the cloth of the reliable American as symbolized by John Wayne. Gary Cooper and others. LS & A ; CO. advertisement did its portion to fuel this fad. utilizing the West’s historic penchant for jean vesture to publicize Levi’s® waist overalls. Easterners who wanted an reliable cowpuncher experience headed to the fellow spreads of California. Arizona. Nevada and other provinces. where they purchased their first brace of Levi’s ( the merchandises were still merely sold West of the Mississippi ) . They took these garments place to wow their friends and assist distribute the Western influence to the remainder of the state. and even overseas.
The 1940s. wartime. American G. I. s took their favourite braces of denim bloomerss overseas ; guarding them against the inevitable larceny of valuable points. Back in the States. production of waist overalls went down as the natural stuffs were needed for the war attempt. When the war was over. monolithic alterations in society signalled the terminal of one epoch and the beginning of another. Denim bloomerss became less associated with workwear and more associated with the leisure activities of comfortable post-war America. Levi Strauss & A ; Co. began selling its merchandises nationally for the first clip in the fiftiess. Easterners and Midwesterners eventually got the opportunity to have on existent Levi’s® denims. as opposed to the merchandises made by other makers over the old ages. This led to many alterations. within the company and on the merchandises. Slide fasteners was used in the authoritative waist overalls for the first clip in 1954. This was in response to ailments from non-Westerners who didn’t like the button fly ( the denims they were used to have oning had slide fasteners ) .
We received similar remarks from work forces who had grown up utilizing a button fly. stating instead ill-mannered things about happening a slide fastener where buttons should be. We did offer both merchandises all over the state. but doing alterations to people’s favourite bloomerss is ever a hazard. Some things took longer to alter. One of them was the attitude that denim vesture was appropriate merely for difficult. physical labour. This was dramatically demonstrated to LS & A ; CO. in 1951. Singer Bing Crosby was really affectionate of Levi’s® denims and was have oning his favourite brace while on a hunting trip to Canada with a friend in that twelvemonth. The work forces tried to look into into a Vancouver hotel. but because they were have oning jean. the desk clerk would non give them a room ; seemingly denim-clad visitants were non considered high-class sufficiency for this hotel. Because the work forces were have oning Levi’s® denims. the clerk did non even bother to look past their vesture to see that he was turning off America’s most darling vocalist ( fortunately for Bing. he was eventually recognized by the bellboy ) .
LS & A ; CO. heard about this. and created a denim dinner jacket jacket for Bing. which we presented to him at a jubilation in Elko. Nevada. where Bing was honorary city manager. Interestingly. the twenty-four hours set aside for this particular presentation was called Blue Serge Day” non Levi’s Day” or Blue Denim Day. ” Was the word denim” non sophisticated plenty for the organisers of the event ( who were non from LS & A ; CO. ) ? I don’t think we’ll of all time know the reply to this. The 1950s brought great acclamation to Levi’s® denims and denim bloomerss in general. though non in the manner most company executives would wish. The portraiture of denim-clad juvenile delinquents” or. as one newspaper put it. motorcycle boys” in movies and on telecasting during this decennary led many school decision makers to censor the erosion of jean in the schoolroom. fearing that the mere presence of jean on a teenager’s organic structure would do him to arise against authorization in all of its signifiers.
About everyone in America had strong sentiments about what have oning bluish denims did to immature people. For illustration: in 1957 we ran an advertizement in a figure of newspapers all over the U. S. which showed a trig immature male child have oning Levi’s® denims. The ad contained the motto. Right For School. ” This ad outraged many parents and grownups in general. One adult female in New Jersey wrote. While I have to acknowledge that this may be ‘right for school’ in San Francisco. in the West. or in some rural countries I can guarantee you that it is in bad gustatory sensation and non right for School in the East and peculiarly New York…Of class. you may hold different criterions and possibly your employees are permitted to have on Bermuda trunkss or golf threadss in your office while transacting Levi’s concern! ” Interesting. isn’t it. how this adult female predicted the future tendency toward insouciant vesture in the workplace? But even as some Americans tried to acquire denim out of the schools. there were merely every bit many who believed that denims deserved a better repute. and pointed to the many wholesome immature people who wore denims and ne’er got into problem.
But no affair what anyone thought or did. nil could halt the ever-increasing demand for Levi’s® denims. As one 1958 newspaper article reported. …about 90 % of American young persons wear denims everyplace except ‘in bed and in church’ and that this is true in most subdivisions of the state. ” Events in this decennary besides led the company to alter the name of its most popular merchandise. Until the 1950s we referred to the celebrated Cu riveted bloomerss as overalls ; ” when you went into a little vesture shop and asked for a brace of overalls. you were given a brace of Levi’s® . However. after World War II our client base changed dramatically. as referred to earlier: from working grownup work forces. to leisure-loving teenage male childs and their older college-age brothers. These cats called the merchandise jeans” – and by 1960 LS & A ; CO. decided that it was clip to follow the name. since these new. immature consumers had adopted our merchandises. Now how did the word jeans” come to intend bloomerss made out of jean?
There are two schools of idea on this 1. The word might be a derivation of Genoese. ” intending the type of bloomerss worn by crewmans from Genoa. Italy. There is another account: denim and jean cloths were both used for workwear for many decennaries. and jeans pants” was a common term for an article of vesture made from jean cloth ; Levi Strauss himself imported jeans pants” from the Eastern portion of the United States to sell in California. When the popularity of jean gave manner to the even greater popularity of jean for workwear. the word jeans” seemed to acquire stuck with the denim version of these bloomerss. Surely the word jeans has been used to depict any type of pant made out of jean. and non merely the riveted. indestructible. working-man’s bloomerss originated by Levi Strauss & A ; Co. in 1873. We even called some lightweight jean Western Wear bloomerss in the 1940s jeans. ” But until America’s young person decided what jeans meant to them. we stuck with the authoritative nickname overalls. ” From the 1950s to the present. jean and denims have been associated with young person. with new thoughts. with rebellion. with individualism.
College-age work forces and adult females entered American colleges in the 1960s and. have oning their favourite bloomerss ( denims. of class ) . they began to protest against the societal ailments blighting the United States. Denim acquired a bad repute yet once more. and for the same grounds as it had a decennary earlier: those who protest. those who rebel. those who question authorization. traditional establishments and imposts. wear jean. Get downing in the late fiftiess. Levi Strauss & A ; Co. began to look at chances for enlargement outside of the United States. During and after World War II. people in Japan. England and Germany saw Levi’s® denims for the first clip. as they were worn by U. S. soldiers during their off-duty hours. There are letters in the company Archives from people who traded leather jackets and other vesture points to American G. I. s for their Levi’s® denims. and wrote to the company inquiring how they could acquire another brace. Word began to distribute via single clients. and American magazines which made their manner overseas.
Letterss came to us from topographic points every bit diverse as Thailand. England and Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific. written by people imploring us to direct them a brace of the celebrated denims. British adolescents would teem the docks when American Merchant Marine ships came into port. and purchase the Levi’s® denims off the work forces before they even had clip to put pes on dry land. By the late sixtiess. the drip of denims into Europe and Asia had become a inundation. Denim was poised to re-enter the continent which had given it birth. and it would be adopted with an enthusiasm shown to few other American merchandises. Indeed. despite its European beginnings. jean was considered the quintessential American cloth. get downing even in the mid-1960s. when denims were still a new trade good in Europe. We entered the Nipponese market a few old ages subsequently. One author wrote prophetically in 1964: Throughout the industrialised universe jean has become a symbol of the immature. active. informal. American manner of life. It is every bit symbolic of America’s accomplishments in mass production. for jean of unvarying quality and superior public presentation is turned out by the stat mi in some of America’s biggest and most modern Millss.
Furthermore. what was one time a cloth merely for work apparels. has now besides become an of import cloth for drama apparels. for athletic wear of all types. ” By the seventiess. these play clothes” tended toward the flared and bell underside silhouette. At the same clip. new cloths were used for merchandises that had traditionally been made out of jean. The merchandise line of Levi Strauss & A ; Co. was no exclusion. Blue Levi’s®” were still a basic of the company’s aggregation. but a glance at gross revenues catalogs will uncover that clients besides wanted tartan. polyester. no-wrinkle flairs with duplicate waistcoats. What looked about like the terminal of simple. cotton jean as the cloth of mundane wear. was simply a intermission in denim’s continued Ascension to planetary rule. A closer expression will demo that jean ne’er truly disappeared.
Even in the seventiess. when it seemed that jean was being pushed aside in favour of these other cloths. authors. makers. and marketing executives worked hard to maintain jean in the public oculus. A author in the Fall 1970 issue of American Fabrics said. Indigo Blue Denim…has go a phenomenon without analogue in our times. To the young person of this state. and many other states in this shrinking universe. Indigo Blue Denim does non stand for public-service corporation. It’s the world’s top manner cloth for bloomerss. ” By the mid to late 1970s the fad for doubleknits and other like cloths began to decelerate. At the same clip. selling studies in assorted trade magazines showed an upward rush in the popularity of jean. as seen in the figure of denim-clad theoretical accounts in print and telecasting advertisement. Those who followed dressing tendencies into the late seventiess were quoted in the trade documents with remarks such as. Jeans are more than a brand.
They are an constituted attitude about apparels and life style. ” This attitude could be seen really clearly in the decorated denim” fad which saw beaded. embroidered. painted and sequined denims looking on streets from California to New York and across the ocean. Personalizing one’s denims was such a immense tendency in the United States that Levi Strauss & A ; Co. sponsored a Denim Art Contest” in 1973. ask foring clients to direct us slides of their decorated jean. The company received 2. 000 entries from 49 of the United States. every bit good as Canada and the Bahamas. Judges included photographer Imogen Cunningham. interior decorator Rudi Gernreich. the art critic for the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper. and the Curator for San Francisco’s De Young Museum.
The winning garments were sent on an 18month circuit of American museums. and some of them were purchased by LS & A ; CO. for the company Archives. In the Introduction to the catalog published to attach to the museum circuit. competition coordinators wrote that Levi’s® denims had become a canvas for personal look. ” Personal look found another medium in the eightiess with the designer jean” fad of that decennary. It seems you can’t maintain a good cloth down. no affair what form it takes. We all remember the ways in which jean was molded onto our organic structures and the manner that denims were now worn about anyplace. including topographic points where they would hold been completed banned in old old ages ( such as upscale eating houses ) .
A author for American Fabrics predicted this tendency all the manner back in 1969. when he wrote. What has happened to denim in the last decennary is truly a capsule of what happened to America. It has climbed the ladder of gustatory sensation. ” Today. LS & A ; CO. employees wear Levi’s® denims to work. Looking back. we see that the really first people to have on Levi’s® denims worked with choice and shovel. and though our tools are computing machine keyboard. PDA and cell phone. we have both been moved to have on the same thing each and every work twenty-four hours: jean denims. Born in Europe. denim’s map and adaptable signifier found a perfect place in wild America with the innovation of denims ; so. as now. jean makes our lives easier by doing us comfy ; and gives us a small spot of history every clip we put it on.

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