The enduring fabric called denim has kept pace with fashion trends across the globe, deftly twining with special yarns to create fusion fabrics and clothing like never before. Fabrics may come and go, but denims never go out of fashion. Sudha Passi explores why:
*5.5 billion is the total number of denim articles sold worldwide.
*One out of two persons in the world wears a pair of jeans at any given time.
*550 million pairs of jeans were produced globally in 2015.
*5,000 pairs of jeans were sold in 11 hours when Hennes & Mauritz opened its first store in Delhi in 2015.
*The word 'denim' appeared for the first time in Webster's dictionary in 1864.
More than 150 years after it made its debut as sturdy clothing, denimwear-especially jeans-continues to rule the global apparel industry weathering every storm in its stride and bouncing back in new avatars time and again to retain its numero uno position as the fabric of choice across demographic barriers. From the early 20th century, when sailors from Genoa (Italy) wore jeans and Leob (Levi) Strauss introduced the rugged trousers among Californian gold miners and ranchers in the United States, and its soldiers popularised jeans across the Atlantic after the Second World War, denim has caught the fancy of human beings like no other textile.
The enduring fabric has kept pace with evolving fashion trends, deftly twining with special yarns to create fusion fabrics and clothing like never before. From workerwear to streetwear, casuals to performance, sports apparel and athleisure, there is hardly any segment of the apparel and accessories industry that denim has not penetrated or a continent where it is not present.
Browsing through the history of jeans and denim, one finds that the indigo-dyed pants have never been out of fashion completely since the 1950s, although there have been phases in the 1990s and the noughties (2000 to 2009) when the American youth took to cargo pants and khakis simply because their parents were still wearing 'blue'.
Denim became popular in the US in 1950s as jeans hitherto integral to cowboy imagery, made an entry into Hollywood. Actors Marlyn Monroe and James Dean were the new faces of youth culture and their 'bootcut' or overall jeans became a fashion statement. Interestingly, bootcut jeans, that have a close fit above the thighs and flare down slightly from the knees to the ankle, remains the bestselling jeans among women even today-three times more than the second bestseller straight-cut jeans, according to Manchester-based fashion writer Tori Attwood.
The Swinging Sixties was the era of flares and floral jeans. Manufacturers began to make different kinds of jeans-embroidered, painted, or even psychedelic. In fact, 1962 is regarded as the year when denim broke out into the commercial world, observes Attwood.