In the Jeans: The Versatility of Denim

Time was, denim had associations with workers and rebels. Now, it is just as likely to be worn by a business man as a tailored suit. Few cloths have had such a marked, and exciting, transformation in status.

Denim derives from Nîmes in France, where the durable cotton cloth is produced. Jeans is a corruption of Genoa, where the style of working men's trouser was common. Of course, it the Levi Strauss Company in America that first manufactured jeans, as we would know them today, for market. Initially, jeans were working class garments, but they rapidly became popular. A crucial factor behind the desirability of denim jeans was their early association with Rock-and-Roll: it was serendipitous that workers in the south of America who became popular for their music did so clad in denim. Here, the association between denim and a Devil-may-care lifestyle began. This theme was amplified by international musicians – think Elvis Presley – and film stars – think James Dean (right).

The route from rebellion to routine proved to be equally short and rapid. The popularity of jeans meant they became commonplace and 'civilized', worn by young and old, outsider and insider alike. This helps to explain denim's more recent metamorphosis into formal tailoring. This latest transition is long overdue, for the hardwearing, crumple resistant quality of denim makes it an ideal cloth for suiting, and Regent has recently made a two-piece denim suit for one of its customers (below). Renewed interest in denim is also a consequence of men's willingness to be appear more relaxed in their dress and their interest in pairing jeans with jackets or what might be traditionally regarded as more formal or 'smart' items of clothing, like leather derbies or a blazer. No less important is the renewed interest in the heritage of clothing and brands like Levi's are reviving classic styles of jeans, complete with original-style labelling, of which Regent stock various models, including the 1967 505 and the 519 Bedford pants.

Vintage-style jeans are also available from Japanese-based Endrime, who use Kurabo denim, which is widely regarded as being one of the highest quality denims available. Showcasing old style, new technology, and also emanating from the East, Edwin jeans offer perhaps a more contemporary twist on the casual, rugged denim jeans.
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