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A history of denim.

Denim is a mainstay that can be found in wardrobes around the world. The most common use for denim is in the production of jeans, but where did denim originate from? and how has it been used throughout history? 

The word ‘denim’ is derived from the French serge de Nîmes which was a fabric that was actually made in England, UK. Nim was a fabric made from a twill weave and was the name given to any fabric that consisted of the same appearance or texture. The most common use for denim is in the manufacturing of jeans. Denim jeans were first produced in Genoa, Italy which the French call ‘Genes’ and this is where the word ‘jeans’ originates from.

In the mid-19th century the very first pair of tailor made rivet-reinforced trousers were made in America for a labourer by the tailor Jacob Davis, this resulted in an explosion of orders for the trousers which Davis could not keep up with. He made a proposal to the dry goods wholesaler ‘Levi Strauss’ who saw potential in the trousers and agreed to manufacture them for him. The market for denim jeans was born in America and Levi Strauss become the largest manufacturer and retailer of Jeans in the world.

The most common colour for denim is indigo and the blue hue is recognisable the world over. The introduction of stretch denim enabled clothing to be made to stretch so that a better fit could be achieved, this involved adding 3% spandex to the fabric. With the arrival of stretch denim came the much sought after trends of skinny jeans and ‘Jeggings’. In recent years denim has become a large part of home interiors and it can be found in beds, sofa’s, cushions, curtains and even wallpaper.

Denim has also been used in the production of many other consumer goods and can be found in trainers, dresses, hats, bags, furniture, lampshades, suits, and upholstery both in cars and the home. Nowadays over 50% of the denim produced for the world's markets is made in China and is worth an estimated £115 Billion. Demand for denim is growing at a rate of around 5% annually and supply at 8% making it one of the world's most purchased fabrics. Denim may have started out small but it has proved the test of time and will be around for many more years to come.

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