The origin of the Jeans|Patrizia Margherita|KnowLedge World Network|Activities|KNOWLEDGE CAPITAL

  • 2020.01.14
  • The origin of the Jeans
Not many people around the world know that jeans, or better denim textile, come from the city of Genoa in Italy.
It is perhaps the most sold and the most requested garment in the whole world, as it is appreciated by any social class, age and gender.
Originally called ‘blue jeans’ because of their first and original dark blue color, the origin of the name ‘blue jeans’ is traced back to the distortion that the English language has given over time to the name ‘blue de Genes’ (Genoa’s blue in French), a name by which a type of blue tarpaulin was indicated in the 16th century.
Tarpaulin is a material used on ships for sails and for covering goods. The Oxford English Dictionary indicates that the origin of this name comes from 1567.
The term blue jeans (or simply jeans) indicates the classic pants with a 5-pocket cut, with two pockets sewn onto the fabric on the back of the pants. The fact that this type of pants was made largely and successfully using denim, led to the confusion of concepts: the term denim indicates the fabric, and it is not necessarily blue whereas the term Jeans identifies the particular style and cut of these pants.
Denim is a material made of cotton yarn, the weave is white or ecru and blue. Before the introduction of chemical dyes, the blue color was obtained from a plant giving an indigo hue.
A large export of heavy-duty jeans of average quality but at an affordable price, of indigo color, coming from the port of Genoa and moving out to Europe, especially to England, started around the mid-16th century.
There has long been a controversy about the origin - or rather the context of the birth - of jeans but, from its historical point of view, the first manufacturers of jeans was identified and found, as I have already mentioned, in the city of Genoa (and its surroundings) where, since the Middle Ages, large quantities of artifacts consisting of raw materials such as wool, linen and cotton had started to be exported.
However, starting from the fifteenth century, a town near Turin became one of the largest producers of a particular type of blue tarpaulin, which was used to package sacks for sails and to cover goods in the port of Genoa and jeans were then made with this material.
They were also referred to as ‘work pants’ because, for their durability, they were used by dockers and port workers.
Jeans were indeed meant to be durable and easily washable.
With the great emigrations, around the nineteenth century, the jeans of Genoa arrived in America where it was used to create work clothes for the miners.
And it is precisely here that the original name changed to blue jeans.
It was in fact in 1873 that the first denim jeans was born thanks to Levi Strauss, who opened a store for gold diggers in the San Francisco area and, using denim, designed the first jeans with a tailor cut.
Decades later, the cowboys of the Far West used the fabric to make not only trousers but also heavy-duty jackets.
Over time, the models have multiplied: tight-fitting, high-waist, low-waist, with zippers and buttons, just as the colors have changed using so many shades and hues.
It is now worn almost daily making it both a casual garment, if worn with sweatshirts, or an elegant garment when worn with a shirt and a jacket.
In the old port in Genoa, it is possible to see a pair of jeans listed in the Guinness World Records: they are 18 meters of height, assembled with 600 pairs of old jeans and hoisted on a crane in the port.

Jeans come from Genoa


  • Patrizia Margherita
  • AgeMonkey( SARU )
  • GenderFemale
  • Jobtranslator, interpreter, teacher

Italian by birth and multicultural by choice, Patrizia Margherita speaks 5 languages and has lived and worked in the US, Brazil, Australia, France and the UK. She’s Italian and American but she likes to consider herself a citizen of the world. When she’s not teaching or working on translations, Patrizia enjoys cooking Italian food, hiking and travelling around the world…she has visited 58 countries so far and counting!

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