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Blue Jeans Day

“Renamed the 501 jean In 1890, the iconic American garment has evolved throughout the centuries from utilitarian uniform to personal style statement, worn by miners and cowboys to hippies and Hollywood bad boys alike.”

~ Nerissa Pacio Itchon

If you need a kilt equivalent of the famous Levi 501 jeans, this tartan and a few rivets may be just the thing. On this day, May 20th, in 1873, San Francisco businessman Levi Strauss and Reno, Nevada tailor Jacob Davis were given a patent to create work pants reinforced with metal rivets, marking the creation of one of the world’s most famous garments: blue jeans. From a workaday item created for miners and labourers in the the developing West, denim blue jeans are now a wardrobe staple with styling that easily identifies their latest fashion incarnation: 50's simplicity of rolled up cuffs; wide-leg bell bottoms and flares of the 60s; tight form-fitting jeans of the 70s; high-waists of the 80s; distressed looks of the 90's; low-rise and colour washes of all types in the 00's. Today they have been morphed into hybrid forms including jorts (jeans x shorts), jeggings (jeans x leggings), and the newest incarnation, the jeato (jeans x speedo)! 👖

On this day, May 20th, in 1873, San Francisco businessman Levi Strauss and Reno, Nevada, and tailor Jacob Davis were given a patent to create work pants reinforced with metal rivets, marking the creation of one of the world’s most famous garments: blue jeans.


Denim is a sturdy cotton warp-faced textile in which the weft passes under two or more warp threads. This twill weaving produces a distinctive diagonal ribbing.


Denim was traditionally colored blue with indigo dye to make blue jeans, although "jean" formerly denoted a different, lighter, cotton fabric. The contemporary use of the word "jeans" comes from the French word for GenoaItaly (Gênes), where the first denim trousers were made.  The name "denim" derives from French serge de Nîmes, meaning 'serge from Nîmes'.


Denim has been used in the USA since the mid 19th century but gained popularity in 1873 when Jacob W. Davis, a tailor from Nevada, manufactured the first pair of “rivet-reinforced” denim pants. His concept for making reinforced jeans was inspired when a female customer requested a pair of durable and strong pants for her husband to chop wood. When Davis was about to finish making the denim jeans, he saw some copper rivets lying on a table and used the rivets to fasten the pockets. At this time, clothes for Western labourers, such as teamsters, surveyors, and miners, were not very durable. Soon, the popularity of denim jeans began to spread rapidly and Davis was overwhelmed with requests.   He then wrote a proposal to the dry goods wholesaler Levi Strauss & Co. that had been supplying Davis with bolts of denim fabric. Davis’s proposal was “to patent the design of the rivet-reinforced denim pant, with Davis listed as inventor, in exchange for certain rights of manufacture”. Levi Strauss & Co. was so impressed by the possibilities for profit in the manufacture of the garment that they then hired Davis to be in charge of the mass-production in San Francisco.


By designer Carol A.L. Martin, this tartan was created by "just playing around with the blues."


For a history of the evolution of blue jeans, click the jeans!