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!
Tags: Claudia Schiffer, denim history, denim suit, Lee, Levi's, Versace, Wrangler
Denim’s Old-School Cool
The global economy may still be singing the blues, but heritage denim brands??”especially in Europe??”are humming an altogether more optimistic tune.
With cash-strapped consumers lacking the inclination and the disposable income to experiment with their wardrobes, old-school and hard-wearing denim is seeing a resurgence in popularity.
Retailers are noticing increasing demand for classic denim brands, from stalwarts such as Lee, Lee Cooper, Levi??™s and Wrangler; workwear labels like Carhartt, Dickies and OshKosh B??™Gosh, and even the pioneers of high-fashion jeans such as Calvin Klein and Polo Ralph Lauren.
???There is a growing movement toward iconic brands and styles. Customers are looking for time-tested authenticity,??? says Ed Burstell, buying director at Liberty.
???We are seeing a return to the classic denim brands. Customers want trustworthy labels and unquestionable value,??? agrees Tancr??de de Lalun, general merchandise manager of women??™s apparel for Printemps.
According to de Lalun, Levi??™s refitted 501 is a bestseller at the store. ???It is a modern and eternal basic that evolves all the time,??? he says.
Thomas George, owner of the E Street Denim stores in Highland Park, Ill., and Lake Geneva, Wis., says the quest for Americana is especially strong outside the U.S. ???Europe is a different market. Europeans and Asians hold the iconic status of American-made products, be it jeans or cars, in great esteem??¦there is somewhat of an irreverence to it here,??? he observes.
The European divisions of Wrangler, Lee and Levi??™s each boast a ???spectacular??? product range, according to George, while their U.S. counterparts have gone more mass market.
Meanwhile, George says while the iconic styles??”often made with raw fabrics and no spandex??”were a harder sell for the body-conscious American consumer, they have set off trends across all denim categories and are helping customers accept looser shapes.
Liberty??™s Burstell concurs, adding denim styles today are less ???extreme,??? with more relaxed looks such as the boot cut, skinny boot and straight leg.
???[The demand for authentic denim] translates to a bigger interest in dry and raw denim??”not artificially distressed??”as well as selvage with its inherent superior quality,??? he says.
???Even recent denim labels are borrowing elements from the heritage brands, such as raw denim and selvage seams, to make it look like it stepped out of the archive,??? says Printemps??™ de Lalun.
Wrangler International president Dieter Jacobfeuerborn notes consumers are ready for simpler styling, quality construction and ???garments with soul.???
???There??™s that ???It??™s a crazy world??™ feeling today, which makes people crave familiarity and reliability in their brands,??? Jacobfeuerborn offers.
Lee International??™s Johan De Niel agrees, adding that, when it comes to denim, consumers are comforted by tried-and-tested labels.
???During difficult economic conditions, consumers tend to go back to classic brands and products because these offer you a stamp of quality and value, plus you can wear these at many different occasions and the life cycle of the product is much longer,??? he says.
Heritage-inspired limited editions of Levi??™s classics, including the 501 cut, which launched in 1890, along with denim shirts and denim jackets, all have been phenomenally successful over the last couple of seasons, according to Levi??™s.
Click here to read the full article
Tags: Lee, Levi's, Wrangler
Lee Jeans Company, one of America’s oldest denim companies, opens their first free standing retail store at The Crossings Premium Outlet in Tannersville, Pa. Lee plans to open three more stores in outlet malls by 2010.
???We launched Lee.com about three years ago, and from that really understood consumers were hungry for a direct experience with the Lee brand and were seeking us out,??? she said. ???Once we realized that we had that level of trust, the next extension was to look at a brick-and-mortar, but knowing that we have a huge relationship with our retailers. We don??™t want to compete ??” we want to enhance their business??? said Liz Cahill, Lee’s vice president of marketing and communications in today’s WWD.
A brief history of Lee; the company was formed in 1889 by Henry David Lee as the Lee Mercantile Company at Salina, Kansas producing dungarees and jackets. The growth of Lee was prompted by the introduction of the Union-All work jumpsuit in 1913 and their first overall in 1920. Later in the 1920s Lee introduced a zipper fly and continued to expand. Around this time, the first children’s overall line was sold.
During the 1930s and 1940s the company became the leading manufacturer of work clothes in the US. In 1944, the Lazy “S” became the official Lee back pocket. In the 1970s Lee shifted its focus from the workwear business and began catering to fashion cycles. Lee created an all-new fit for women under the Ms. Lee label. A youth wear line for boys and girls was introduced.
In 1996 started Lee National Denim Day as part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As champions in the fight against breast cancer, Lee works with the Entertainment Industry Foundation, Lee National Denim Day has raised over $75 million to help fund breast cancer research programs. Lee will host it’s 14th annual Lee National Denim Day on Oct 2. Employees of US corporations are invited to make a $5 contribution in the fight against breast cancer in exchange for wearing jeans to workfor a day. Lee will donate $5 of every purchase made at The Crossings Outlet store throughout September to the cause.
Men's Low Bootcut
Women's Slender Secret Flap Pocket
Lee continues to provide denim globally with an all-American sensibility. Comfortable styles, affordable prices and an unwavering patriotism giving back to the community.
Click here to read the WWD article
–Nikki Cho Russo