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A Quick Denim History Through Vintage Jeans Ads


It’s time for a history lesson! We’ve been hearing a lot about the origins of denim fabric lately, with the recent discovery of 17th century paintings of Italian peasants wearing denim. The denim jeans that we know and love today however, began with the invention of rivets by a German immigrant named Levi Strauss, and were first seen as mining garb in the late 1800s. In the early 1900s cowboys began wearing denim jeans, and the rest, friends, is history.

Below, we’ll take a look at the evolution of denim jeans through ads over the last century. Be sure to check out the amazing 3-piece denim tuxedo on the Ken-like model from the 70s!

The above ad is from the 1940s. Mainly seen as workers uniforms in previous years, suburban America began transitioning into jeans with the wild popularity of Western movies.

The best propaganda is always the type coming from the taller, more handsome guy in the letterman’s jacket! In the 1950s, those cowboy loving little boys grew into young adults, and jeans become an icon of cool. The jeans were stiff (raw denim’s equivalent today) and needed to be worn in (think cuffed jeans from The Little Rascals and Sandlot, and Marlon Brando’s Rebel Without a Cause).

In the 1960′s, stretch is introduced with the addition of 2% lycra, and the super tight jean is born. Women begin to have to lay on their beds and use pliers to zip up their jeans.

 

An already crazy time for fashion; new distressing processes, embellishments, fits, and styles were experimented with in the 70s. Check out this guy’s 3 piece denim flared suit!

In the 1980′s, denim goes high fashion. Big name designers begin coming out with their own styles, like in this Versace ad featuring Nadia Auermann and Claudia Schiffer.  And acid wash was popularized. We mustn’t forget about acid wash.

We had fun looking up old ads this week. Stay tuned for some bizarre denim commercials in the future!

—Renee Sykes

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Posted Apr 29 2011 in Denim Therapy
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