Jeans (also called blue jeans) are a style of pants that are constructed out of denim fabric. While the term has been incorrectly applied to other styles of pants made of other fabrics, denim fabric is in fact a requirement of jeans.
The blue color of blue jeans originally came from a natural indigo dye; though today it is more common to find jeans dyed with synthetic substances (however indigo dye is still used among some upscale brands).
The name blue jeans is a derivation of the French phrase bleu de Genes which translated into English as the blue of Genoa. In the 16th century jeans were a popular commodity sold to sailors in the harbor of Genoa. Sailors enjoyed the rugged durability of jeans, their ability to be worn both wet and dry, as well as the ease with which they could be laundered. Due to the powerful Genoa navy, jeans quickly became popular among a wider audience.
It was not until 1850 that jeans gained their signature rivets. Rivets on jeans are a result of the partnership between the tailor Jacob Davis and jean manufacturer Levi Strauss. Jacob, who lacked the financial resources to start his own jean company, came up with the idea of riveting jeans to protect delicate seams (like those on the corners of pockets) after having to make many repairs to the same pair of jeans. Through this partnership the seminal Levi Strauss jeans were born.
While jeans started as a popular item for sailors, miners and other workers; in the 1950’s they became a signature of the American youth counterculture. As with many other icons of subversion this catapulted jeans to new heights of popularity and by 1970 jeans were well established as a casual option for pants among all people.
Jeans come in many different cuts and styles, each giving the pair of pants a signature look and feel. Stone washing and distressing are two popular styles that result in a soften denim and worn in appearance. Some of the more popular cuts for jeans include low-rise, bell-bottom, boot cut, carpenter, relaxed, slim and many other derivations.