Men’s denim jeans haven’t always been the rad multi-coloured, skin-tight pants we have today. Because of its versatility, denim, has a rich history. It’s also one of the few items of clothing that’s acceptable to wear almost anywhere.
Although there are theories that denim first made its appearance in Europe during the 1700’s, we can say for sure that it was around during the American gold rush. The working class wore denim overalls because they were thick, comfortable and durable.
Denim came back in a big way during the 30s. In this Golden Age of Hollywood, cowboys and heroes were often dressed in jeans. Denim jeans were associated with tough guys, this look achieved iconic status.
In the 50s jeans took a very different route. James Dean wore jeans in “A rebel without a cause,” Marlon Brando wore jeans in “The wild ones” and Elvis wore denim in “Jailhouse Rock.” This lead to jeans being associated with rebellious youth. Skinny jeans were introduced and other jeans were worn with the cuffs turned up. They also changed from regular blue jeans to being light washed or black.
In the 60s and 70s, also known as the hippie era, bell bottoms and hip huggers were popular. Rock stars like Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison were known for wearing jeans. Jeans were customised and personalised with beading, embroidery and patches. Stone washing and tie dying were also in style.
When the punk rock scene took off in the mid-70s, so did acid washed jeans, cut offs and jeans with studs, zippers, hole and rips. Then in the 80s the concept of designer denim was also introduced to the fashion world.
The 90s was the carpenter jeans and head-to-toe denim decade. Wearing denim jackets, shirts, jeans and skirts became all the rage. The emergence of the 90s hip hop culture also made waves on the fashion scene. Suddenly, men’s denim jeans were low slung and extra baggy.
Then in the early 00s, low rise jeans entered the fashion scene. Stars like Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears brought low rise boot legs and flares into popularity.
The mid-00s saw distressed denims and skinny jeans come back into fashion. Nowadays, denim is no longer the preserve of working class. It’s perfectly acceptable for almost anybody to wear them to the office or for a night out on the town.