Jeans Tell A Quintessentially American Story Of Class Appropriation

by MR Magazine Staff

“If we were to use a human term to describe a textile,” American Fabrics magazine wrote in 1962, “we might say that denim is an honest fabric—substantial, forthright, and unpretentious.” Created for California gold miners, blue jeans have come a long way since 1873, when Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis obtained US patent #139,121 for their sturdy, riveted work trousers. Over the next century, denim transformed from workwear to cowboy cool to rebel chic. And throughout this evolution, blue jeans have maintained their aura of Americanness and authenticity. But anyone who has ogled $2,000 jeans on Instagram lately might hesitate to use the term “unpretentious” to describe today’s denim. Once a symbol of the US—a purportedly classless country, unburdened by old-world formality and utterly obsessed with freedom—jeans have gone totally global and have been reinvented as a luxury item, loaded with details and embellishments known only to cognoscenti. Read more at Quartz.