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Blue jeans and faded denim remain popular fashions

Updated on December 20, 2014

Denim jeans have stayed fashionable

Faded blue jeans have been fashionable since when I was a teenager back in the 1960s and the appeal of this hard-wearing cotton fabric is still as strong. Jeans are popular with teenagers, are fashionable for men and women, and there are brand names that help make them more so.

Denim is a strong dark blue cotton cloth that fades with washing and wear. It is often given a hand though to get that special look. Raw denim is the term for denim that has just been made and not subjected to the repeated washing that get it to fade.

Denim is for casual wear and is good for outdoor work but can also be worn to show how trendy and fashion-conscious you are. Perhaps not so much nowadays but jeans and other denim clothes are still very salable.

The worldwide denim market is worth a considerable amount of money with most of it being produced in China and India but denim material and clothes are produced too in America and Europe as well as elsewhere.

Levi Strauss & Co jeans label

The classic label for Levi 501 jeans.
The classic label for Levi 501 jeans. | Source

Blue jeans for men

Denim blue jeans - men's clothing
Denim blue jeans - men's clothing | Source

Levi and Wrangler Jeans

Levi and Wrangler were the two main rival denim jeans companies when I was growing up. To wear a pair of Levi’s made by the American Levi Strauss & Co showed how “cool” you were. Levi’s, as I remember them were a bit more expensive that the rival jeans made by Wrangler.

Levi’s denim jeans were popular with young people in the mod, greaser/biker hippie and skinhead sub-cultures. They were a mark of rebellion shared by all.

Hippies used to add patches to theirs and would also make their jeans into flares by inserting triangles of other cloth into the bottoms. Faded denims were taken one step beyond with the fashion of deliberately bleaching them. Domestos and other bleach was used to make whitish marks on the cloth in random ways. You had to be careful not to use too much of the caustic fluid though or it would make holes in the denim. If you got it just right it would give it that ‘cosmic’ look.

Wrangler is another American company and has survived to this day. Both Levi’s and Wrangler’s were associated with America and with Westerns. They had a tough and macho image as well as a rebellious stance for the wearer.

The strength of denim has been shown not only in how hard-wearing it is but how the material has remained popular for so long. Jeans are the favourite items of many people and, as the hit song by Neil Diamond goes, a lot of people like to stay Forever in Blue Jeans!

Neil Diamond - Forever in Blue Jeans (Stereo!)

Denim jackets

Short denim jackets complemented the look teamed up with Levi’s or Wrangler jeans. These jackets had metal buttons and the jeans had copper rivets to strengthen the pockets. This added to their rugged and herd-wearing image. The more faded such a jacket was the cooler was its fashion status just like with the denim jeans. It showed the garment had been around and hadn’t just been bought.

Bard of Ely in denims

Bard of Ely in denim jacket and blue jeans back in 1978
Bard of Ely in denim jacket and blue jeans back in 1978 | Source

Denim caps and other uses for denim

In the 1970s there was a fashion for a few years for denim lapel-jackets, waistcoats, suits, coats and hats. Denim caps and denim cowboy hats were very popular and so were other items of ‘smart’ clothing now produced in a used denim range.

I remember a company in Cardiff called Gentlefolk that used to turn out this sort of clothing and had its own label and boutique. Old denims were cut up and recycled into making new garments and the contrast between the colour and textures of the cloth added to the appeal.

Denim shirts have always been a fashionable item of clothing as well. The denim used is thinner to make it more flexible and more comfortable to wear.

Denim skirts and dresses have proven popular with the women too. There have been denim overalls and denim jump-suits and basically if you can make it then it exists made out of denim.

Denim colours

Today you can get pink, purple, black and red, as well as many other colours of denim, though navy blue and faded is still the most popular. Back in the 1960s there were other colours being produced that you don't see now though. Ice blue jeans and also lovat and black and gold denims were fashionable. They probably would be again today if some manufacturer would make them.

Denim jeans

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Holes in denim and ready-ripped denim

Denim is unusual in being a clothing fabric that retains its appeal when faded, well worn and with patches to cover holes and ripped denim is also very fashionable. Denims jeans with holes in the knees and elsewhere have been sported by many rock stars of the Hard Rock, Heavy Metal and Punk Rock genres. Again this goes back to the rebellious image the material gives.

You can buy high-fashion denims that have been already faded and ripped. Seems strange though that a damaged article of clothing is thought to look better than a brand new one!

How to Bleach Out Your Jeans

© 2013 Steve Andrews


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    • Kara Skinner profile image

      Kara Skinner 3 years ago from Maine

      Great post. I love jeans and I wear them as much as I can even though I go to a school that doesn't allow them in the dress code. I still have a pair that's five years old and they're the one of the most comfortable pairs of pants I own. I couldn't believe it when I read an article about them going out of fashion. (Link at bottom)The only reason I can think of for this is people have been buying them second hand more instead of new. After all, why buy a pair of $30 jeans when you can get them for $5 with very little difference in quality? Thanks for the hub. :)

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 4 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you for this great feedback and very valid points!

    • profile image

      moon batchelder 4 years ago

      whereas those of us born in the fifties or later are certainly aware of the 'coolness' aspect in our teen years of wearing denim...there was a time when wearing them marked one as being "poor" or from the farm or some other such thing...

      even when i was in grade school (about age 7-11) it was still a 'class' indicator to *have* to wear them.

      comes the sixties and rebellion against the dominant paradigm included wearing these, part protest and part necessity of means.

      but, as usual, the culture vulture fashion industry ripped off the clothing of the movement, our denim thing, and soon afterward one had to pay more and more for this modest item of wear.

      i remember paying as little as $7 for a pair. and ours were worn til threadbare out of need!

      nowadays one must pay much more for this once humble bit of fabric, even more if the jeans are made to look "old".


    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 4 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Well, why not? I thank you for your comments!

    • DonnaCSmith profile image

      Donna Campbell Smith 4 years ago from Central North Carolina

      I wear blue jeans almost everyday. Having worked 30 years with horses they were my "uniform" and now I am not comfortable wearing anything else.

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 4 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      That's right! Thanks for your comments!

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 4 years ago from Indonesia

      Bard of Ely, I agree it's always fashionable with blue jeans. The older the more comfortable to wear, right ?

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 4 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank YOU for commenting and enjoying it!

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 4 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Those were the days! I remember making my jeans into flares in the seventies. Still love denim to this day even though I'm a granny now! Nice hub thank you.