Denim is a type of cotton textile known for its use in blue jeans and other clothing. It uses a sturdy twill weave with a characteristic diagonal ribbing. Originally used for workmen's clothes, denim is now ubiquitous and has even entered the world of high fashion. Nearly everyone has at least one garment made of this fabric in the closet these days.
Levi Strauss is credited with making the first blue jeans out of denim in the 1850s, for gold miners in California. In the 1930s and '40s, commercially sold denim workwear became very popular, with new companies such as Dickies and Wrangler joining the trend. Comfortable, durable, and associated with blue collar culture, the fabric soon became fashionable among the working class youth throughout the United States. Denim jackets became a fashion statement in the 1950s along with jeans.
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Throughout the decades, denim continued to gain a wider market. By the 1970s, women were wearing it as often as men, and denim skirts and dresses could be found in numerous styles. In the '80s, designer jeans were the rage, and a style once associated with the working class was updated for affluent yuppies. Though denim is still considered a casual material and is not usually worn for more formal occasions, it is not unusual to see people sporting jeans at high end night clubs, and many designer garments cost in the hundreds of US Dollars (USD).
Denim was originally dyed blue with indigo — hence the characteristic color of "blue jeans." While blue remains a popular color, the fabric can be found today in nearly any color imaginable. It is also available in cotton blends, though it is traditionally 100% cotton. Some blends add a bit of Lycra® or spandex to create stretch denim. The earliest manufacturers, including Levi and Dickies, still dominate the market, though haute couture designers like Calvin Klein are also well-known for their denim garments.