Fashion History: The Invention of Blue Jeans

Above is the picture of the patent for “Improvement in Fastening Pocket-Openings” that would become the blueprint for the blue jean.

There’s a reason Levi’s are synonymous with blue jeans. It was Levi Strauss who invented the true-blue pants. An immigrant from Bavaria, Strauss worked at his family’s dry goods store in New York when he decided to move west in hopes of making a fortune during the gold rush.

It was in San Francisco that Strauss opened his own dry goods store that counted many of the miners as customers. Over the years he became a successful businessman but that was just a taste of the success that was yet to come. Enter Jacob Davis.

Davis was a tailor in Reno, Nevada and would frequent Strauss’ store. He wrote a letter to Strauss explaining his method of tailoring pants with metal rivets at the pockets and zip front, to reinforce them for the working conditions of the miners. In the letter he stated that he didn’t have the funds to patent the design, but was hoping Strauss would supply the monetary means so the two could go into business. An enthusiastic Strauss quickly agreed and the two were granted the patent for “Improvement in Fastening Pocket-Openings” on May 20, 1873. This date is often called the birthday of blue jeans.

Image via moderhistorian

Sources history.com, About.com, modernhistorian

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Style School: Selvedge Jeans

While everyone is cooing over the latest printed and bright colored skinny jeans, let’s not forget that the original blue jean can provide sartorial satisfaction too.  This brings us to our style school lesson of the day: selvedge (or sometimes seen as selvage, selvege) jeans.

More often seen on men’s styles, selvedge refers to the weaving process of denim and is noticeable when the cuff of a jean is rolled up.

Selvedge edging can only be created with a traditional shuttle loom. Because these looms (created in the 1800s and used to make early pairs of blue jeans) require a narrower denim strip than the machines used today, there is more denim used in selvedge jeans, hence why they are usually more expensive. What’s more, when jeans were first made, the tight weaving process was continued to the very edge, which is why selvedge edging won’t unravel or fray, giving you a natural, clean edge.

Sources: DenimTherapy, RawrDenim, Denimology

Images via blog.denimtherapy.com, TaylorTailor.com, ColdWinterCollectibles, Levi’s Jeans