By Becky V. Bennett
Madison Extension Office
October 7th is National Denim Day where we can celebrate the many wonders of jeans! Jeans you say? Just how can jeans be that important? Let’s do some digging 4-H style…
Head—Denim material has been around since the 1600s, but what we know as “jeans” today was not invented or patented until 1873 by German immigrants Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss (yes that Levi!). The term “denim” is thought to be derived from the French term “serge de Nîmes,” as the material was thought to have originated in Nîmes, France. Now here’s the kicker…the term “jean” originated in Genoa, Italy. Jean material is actually a cheaper version of denim and is made from a cotton, linen, and/or wool blend of the same color. Davis combined the two methods to create denim jeans adding rivets to the pockets to increase durability.
Heart — Modern jeans today were originally created for miners, millworkers, ranchers, and cowboys. The durable material soon morphed into a means of rebellion for 1950s youth, then into a representation of egalitarianism in the 1960s, and finally became all about fashion statements in the 1970s up to the present.
Hands — Although hundreds of brands and designs have come along since Davis and Strauss’ original design, the methods of producing denim and constructing jeans has remained relatively the same. Cotton warp yarn dyed a specific color (often blue) is interwoven with white cotton filler yarn in either a left or right hand twill creating a twill weave. Originally jeans were a cotton only product, now it is combined with other synthetic materials such as spandex.
Health — Levi’s® launched its global creative platform this year in which the company is encouraging youth to “Go Forth!” This initiative seeks to inspire pioneering spirits to help in global sustainability efforts. Several organizations use blue jeans to bring awareness to their cause as well as raise money for communities in need. Blue jeans have become synonymous with strength and comfort in today’s society. Casual Friday’s have taken on a whole new meaning in a time where people are pulling together to better the lives of others.
So, there you have it: agriculture, fashion, sewing, artisanship, science, entrepreneurship, community service, and so many more themes we focus on in 4-H in just one little pair of jeans! If you thought this was interesting, just wait until you discover all of the wonderful projects and topics we learn about in 4-H. Stop by and discover your passion!
Becky V. Bennett
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Employment Opportunity—Affirmative Action Employer authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A&M. University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating.