I wonder if Levi Strauss had any concept of the revolution they were sparking when they first started to produce their riveted jeans. Originally produced as practical work – wear these simple and durable garments soon found a place in many people’s casual wardrobe and now almost everyone in the developed world owns at least one pair. When you come to think about it jeans have to be considered one of the most important innovations in recent history. Not quite up there with the wheel and the internal combustion engine but significant nonetheless.
I marvel at how any one thing could have so many incarnations and yet still remain instantly recognisable. There are men’s jeans, women’s jeans, boot cut jeans, skinny jeans, high rise, low rise and stretch varieties and yet we all recognise them as jeans. Imagine if this number of variants were options for a car you would never know what it was when you saw one!
Jeans are big business and so virtually every clothing brand has jumped onto the bandwagon with many trying to put their own stamp onto the product or producing garments that reflect their particular ideals. The brands are constantly searching for ways to make their jeans stand out from the very considerable crowd resulting in new innovations which they all hope will prove to be the next big thing. Many of the latest offerings have focused on environmentally friendly production knowing that this will strike a chord with their target market. Organic cotton, natural dyes and the ethical treatment of staff are new trends that have seen this enormous industry returning to old fashioned values and methods. There is no doubt that ethical ideals can now grab the headlines and boost sales.
Levis have taken some high profile steps in the direction of recycling by producing jeans which are partly made of bottles. There’s a head line grabber if ever I saw one! Some brands are recycling, some up-cycling and there have even been jeans produced which help global warming by soaking up carbon dioxide.
Some companies are still focussing on benefits to the customer rather than the environment. There are jeans out there now that will do almost anything except make the tea. Wrangler have jeans impregnated with moisturiser to help your skin, there are jeans which help to reduce cellulite (allegedly) and naturally jeans with special features to make you look slimmer like the signature panel in NYDJ Jeans which helps pull your tummy in. Other brands are using new technology to perform body scans in order to produce made to measure jeans in less than one hour.
With so many styles available, ethical choices and new innovations in textile technology you have to wonder if there are any possibilities for this most flexible of garments which have not yet been explored. What could we possibly see next? I’m hoping for jeans which are self-cleaning like some ovens and which then iron themselves overnight. Jeans companies take note!