The Denim Heard ‘Round The World

When jeans first made an appearance in Western society, Levi Strauss was concerned with inventing a type of clothing that was suitable and more productive for gold miners. Initially, they were an article of clothing that was intended for workers, the lower class. As society has progressed, we see how jeans have gone from a sign of “deprivation and sweat” (87) to the “signature of an heiress” (85). They started becoming more widely worn through the early 20th century, just in a casual fashion, when people wanted to sit back and relax. They were the symbol of comfort and relaxation. However, they soon became symbolic of so much more. No longer just a fashion statement, they were a sign of rebellion. Whether it was rejecting the American standard of living or rejecting society’s ideas of women, these blue denim fabrics were a sign of hope and meaning for  many; especially the youth.

What is interesting about so many turning points in American society is how they are fueled by the younger generation. In every decade, the younger generation always has the loudest voice. The same youths that were able to turn graffiti into an expressive art form and a commentary on the state of society and media, were the same incredible minds who turned an article of clothing that was meant for the lower class into a symbol for freedom and equality. What is interesting about jeans nowadays is how fashion still managed to make them hierarchical. Prices for this piece of denim range from ten dollars to two thousand. Some may think this is an outdated topic, the impact jeans have had on society, but the fact that famous designers have stolen the freedom of jeans by stitching their labels onto the denim proves that fashion still has a say in our lives. I find myself at times buying into these fashion trends, the more expensive jeans, the dark wash jeans, the infamous “skinny jeans.” Fashion has managed to take this symbol of comfort and convince us they can be fancy too, so now I can wear my jeans to school or dress them up when going to a party. While fashion is always trying to advertise clothing that rich people will buy, the fact that jeans are so widely worn and bought proves that they are here to stay, maybe the one thing in fashion that connects every class of people.That, and leggings, which I may call the “new jeans.”

-Nour Saudi

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