What Is Denim?
Denim, as most people know, is a textile. Made from a sturdy cotton warp-faced twill, it is made by passing the weft under two or more warp threads which produces a diagonal weave of ribbing that gives it its appearance. With denim, only the warp threads are dyed which leaves the weft thread white. Due to the method of weaving, this is what causes denim to be blue on the outside of the trouser whereas the lining of the pant generally remains white. The process is referred to as the ‘Indigo Dyeing Process’ and is the core contributor to the fading capabilities that distinguish denim from other textiles.
The History of Denim Jeans
Despite America laying claim to the denim jean craze, the actual fabric is believed to have first been conceived at some point in the 16th century in Genoa, Italy and Nimes, France, which is where the name ‘denim’ stems from.
Initially designed by a Swiss banker named Jean-Gabriel Eynard, by the dawn of the 1800s, Massena’s troops began to arrive in Genoa and Eynard was given the task of outfitting them with uniforms. Using his unique indigo cloth, he created trousers called ‘Bleu de Genes’ which was the first type of blue jean.
Initially known as ‘jeans’ in Genoa, the weavers in Nimes attempted to replicate it but instead created a very similar product that they coined as ‘denim.’ The original jean fabric was closer to cotton corduroy which was what the weavers in Genoa were well known for. While it was ideal for working environments, the far coarser and higher quality denim produced in France proved to be more appropriate as a coverall for a slightly more distinguished clientele. Both garments were stapled textiles used by the working-class people of Italy and France.