Updated: May 31, 2022
For this edition of History of Hues, let's discuss denim. What Is Denim? Where did it come from and how did it become so popular?
Denim originated and was first produced in the city of Nîmes in France, and was originally called the serge de Nîmes. The word denim is the English pronunciation of the French term: “de-nim.”
The construction of denim fabric is a twill weave, which creates a subtle diagonal ribbing pattern. Traditional woven denim is a heavy, strong fabric and 100% cotton. The indigo color is achieved by dying the threads blue.
In the United States, denim became popular in 1853 during the Gold Rush. Levi Strauss opened a store in San Francisco selling dry goods. He started making pants for miners with big pockets so they could store their gold. One of his customers, Jacob Davis, added copper rivets to the seams and pocket corners to make the pants stronger. They patented the pants and started marketing them to working men. Denim quickly became the fabric of choice for miners, cowboys, and other working men.
In the 1950s denim started to inch into the mainstream. James Dean wore denim with a white t-shirt and started the bad boy image which teens immediately copied.
During the 1960s the hippie movement took denim casual and personal by painting and embroidering their pants. As the women’s movement gained traction, denim was considered a gender equalizer won by all.
Calvin Klein and Brook Shields moved denim onto the forefront of high fashion in 1976. From there, denim became a staple in almost every person's wardrobe.
In the ’90s denim became casual, baggy, and ripped as grunge took over.
In the 2000s the advancing technology of yarns and weaving led fashion designers to create a wide range of fabric qualities. They started adding stretch to denim for comfort, and changing the color from traditional indigo to a rainbow assortment of any color imaginable.
How to decorate with denim?
In the home, denim fabric can be used to cover sofas and chairs. It is durable and resilient since it is washable. Most people are very comfortable with the fabric and the color since it is seen in everyday life.
At the drape, we chose to use the color of denim as the inspiration for our room darkening denim panels. The room darkening fabric blocks light creating a very cozy atmosphere in the house, just like that perfect pair of jeans.
The cotton canvas in Indigo was also inspired by the history of denim.
Both of these fabrics and more are available as custom window panels. Order your 5 free swatches and start your decorating project today!