Yeap, I know it sounds strange but it is true! For sure now you are thinking about Levi Strauss & Co, Lee and Wrangler that are all American, historical brands … however, the jeans fabric has Ligurian origins 😉 Let’s know all its story
In the past, it was used to give fabrics the name of the place of production. “Jeane” was the name written on many loads of moleskin that, starting from the sixteenth century, arrived in London from the maritime republic of Genoa. After some time the name “jean” became the name of this canvas, highly appreciated on the English market for its robustness and cost.
Genoa’s jean fabric was a fustian textile of “medium quality and of reasonable cost”, very similar to cotton corduroy for which Genoa became famous for. It was “used for work clothes in general”. For instance, the Genoese navy equipped its sailors with jeans, as they needed a fabric which could be worn wet or dry.
The term jeans appear first in 1795 when a Swiss banker by the name Jean-Gabriel Eynard and his brother Jacques went to Genoa and started textile affairs. In 1800 Massena’s troops entered the town and Jean-Gabriel was entrusted with their supply. In particular, he furnished them with uniforms cut from blue cloth called “bleu de Genes” whence later derives the famous garment known worldwide as “blue jeans”.
From Italy, the jeans fabric arrived in America where it gradually became what we know today. However, it became popular due to two persons. Levi Strauss, a businessman who founded Levi’s Strauss & Co. in San Francisco in 1858. He began just when gold fever in California started and gold prospectors, therefore, needed aprons and overalls for their panning for gold. The jeans trousers as we know them nowadays were invented by the tailor Jacob Davis, who added the copper rivets to finish the pockets and therefore make them even more practical and resistant, especially for the miners and gold researchers who filled them with the precious nuggets. This invention was patented in 1873 and Strauss that could use it exclusively. Once the patent expired, the free market gives birth to many companies that specialize in jeans trousers.
The rest of the history we all know 😉
- the first cities where the jean fabric was produced were Genoa and Nîmes in France.
- in Nîmes French tried to reproduce the same fabric that was produced in Genoa. Instead, they developed a different fabric, even if it was quite similar. It became known as “denim” that came from French “de Nîmes” that meant “from Nîmes” 🙂 That’s the story.
So now, when you buy another pair of jeans you can imagine that in part you use them thanks to inhabitants of Genoa 😉
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