Ever since the forty-niners’, during the California gold rush, the combination of durable twill cotton and indigo dye has been an unbeatable staple of casual styling: without it no wardrobe would be complete.
So how did such a simple fabric become so covetable? Is it all thanks to irresistibly cool icons slathering the ‘work man’s cotton’ with rebellious sex appeal? We have, indeed, come to think that if we slip into some black skinny jeans we’ll transform into Kate Moss but, perhaps, another reason for denim’s longevity is its ability to evolve?
Each decade denim has adapted to reflect the zeitgeist and pop culture of the time, often acting as a signifier of rebellion and a reflector of youth opinion. The free-loving sixties and seventies favoured free-flowing flares. The eighties bore tight economic times; leading to personalisation in the form of studs, rips and leather. In the nineties the rise of grunge and Kurt Cobain resulted in a low-slung, baggy fit becoming popular and, in 2000, we experienced turn-ups, peddle pushers and, eventually, skinny jeans. For a while it seemed as if denim had fallen out of vogue slightly, possibly due to the denim jacket and jeans combo that became representative of the early naughties boy band. Today, however, the fashion industry is experiencing a reinstated love for all things denim. Shirts are dip-dyed, jackets are bleached and ‘mom jeans’ are replacing the skinnies, with more and more designers branching out into the denim department.
In the beginning America dominated the denim market; Levi with its classic 501s and Calvin Klein withholding the secrets of Brooke Shields. Now, with the recent revival of the denim scene, British based designers are starting a quiet revolution. Brands that are boasting local produce include Tender Co, Hiut, Dawson Denim and Story mfg. Hiut is an organic denim company that wants you to join its ‘no wash club’, insisting that after 6 weeks of lived in, unwashed jeans you will have a “unique pair of jeans that only you could’ve made”. Story mfg. states that it “will never create something which is boring and done”, which is certainly true with the signature TIME jacket. This dyed denim jacket is based on a 1950’s prison jacket and is available for periodical upgrades such as adding a belt or internal pockets.
Even Topshop is jumping on the personal-to-you bandwagon, today launching its Selvedge Denim collection in store and online. To further assist the effort in British one-of-a-kind denim, Selfridges has recently devoted 26,000 sq. feet of its London store to supplying the best possible pair of jeans; boasting on-hand denim experts and featuring a plethora of brands from Armani to Wildfox.
The British denim market is clearly pushing a trend for longevity and individuality, something which in itself is representative of the modern youth’s increased awareness of green issues, appreciation for clothes that tell a story and more mindful purchasing habits. Fast-fashion could become a thing of the past as the ethical values, that have long been a growing trend in our supermarkets, make their way onto our high-streets – starting with denim pieces that are the antithesis of throw-away fashion.
Written by Gabrielle Kynoch. Images © as per caption.