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When Is the Official “Birthday” of Blue Jeans?

Published May 16, 2024
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Millions of people all over the world love putting on their favorite pair of blue jeans. And what’s not to love? They’re casual yet stylish, durable yet comfortable. They’re also approaching their 151st birthday. According to Levi Strauss & Co., May 20, 1873, is the official “birthday” of blue jeans. On that date, Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis received a U.S. patent for their men’s work pants with rivets, and thus, blue jeans (in their earliest incarnation) were born.

The abridged origin story of blue jeans centers on Jacob Davis, a tailor in Nevada. After a customer’s pockets kept ripping, Davis came up with the idea of creating riveted pants to reinforce the weak points. He contacted denim supplier Levi Strauss, owner of the San Francisco-based dry goods wholesaler Levi Strauss & Co., with the idea to go into business together. The two obtained a patent for copper-riveted jeans in 1873, and the rest is history. Levi’s 501 jeans, their original product, are still widely sold today, though they have been updated numerous times since the 1870s.

The first denim jeans were sometimes referred to as “waist overalls” until the early 1960s and were mainly worn as work trousers by miners and farmers. Their popularity expanded during World War II before becoming a symbol of youth culture in the 1950s, thanks to charismatic, rebellious screen legends like James Dean and Marlon Brando. By the 1970s, jeans had gone mainstream and were adopted as casual wear by a wide cross-section of society in many western countries.

Quality never goes out of style:

  • Blue jeans continue to be loved by consumers and there is little indication that they’ll go out of style anytime soon. In the United States alone, approximately 450 million pairs of jeans are sold every year. According to Cotton Incorporated, the average American has seven pairs of jeans in his or her wardrobe.

  • Despite their venerable place in fashion history, blue jeans are constantly evolving, with various fits and styles to choose from, including skinny jeans, bootcut, boyfriend, baggy, flare, and slim. Currently, skinny jeans are the most popular fit for women globally.

  • According to a report conducted by Research and Markets, the global denim jeans market is expected to approach $76.1 billion USD by 2026.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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