|History of jeans|
|http://www.sina.com.cn 2006/10/31 21:14 英语周报大学版|
History of jeans
Jeans were invented a little over a century ago; jeans are the world’s most popular, versatile garment, crossing boundaries of class, age and nationality. From their origins as pure workwear, they have spread through every level of the fashion spectrum, embraced internationally for their unmatched comfort and appeal. Constantly in demand, they have survived the passing of both trends and time, capturing the ethos of each succeeding decade. While their charisma springs from their legendary American roots, their commercial strength rests on innovation and interpretation in the hands of jeanswear makers around the world.
In the mid ’40s, the Second World War came to an end, and denim blue jeans, previously worn almost exclusively as workwear, gained new status in the U.S. and Europe. Rugged but relaxed, they stood for freedom and a bright future. Sported by both men, women and sharp teenagers, they seemed as clean and strong as the people who choose to wear them. In Europe, surplus Levi’s were left behind by American armed forces and were available in limited supplies. It’s the population’s first introduction to the denim legend. Workwear manufacturers tried to copy the U.S. originals, but those in the know insisted on the real thing.
Europe was exposed to a daring new style in music and movies and jeans took on an aura7of sex and rebellion. When Elvis Presley sang in “Jailhouse Rock,” his denim prison uniform carried a potent virile image. Girls swooned8 and guys were quick to copy the King. In movies like “The Wild One” and “Rebel Without a Cause,” cult figures Marlon Brando and James Dean portrayed tough anti-heroes in jeans and T-shirt. Adults spurned the look; teenagers, even those who only wanted to look like rebels, embraced it.
By the beginning of the ’60s, slim jeans became a leisurewear staple, as teens began to have real fun, forgetting the almost desperate energy of the previous decade, cocooned in wealth and security. But the seeds of change had been sown, and by the mid ’60s jeans had acquired yet another social connotation—as the uniform of the budding social and sexual revolution. Jeans were the great equalizer, the perfect all-purpose garment for the classless society sought by the hippy generation. In the fight for civil rights, at anti-war demonstrations on the streets of Paris, at sit-ins and love-ins everywhere, the battle cried was heard above a sea of blue.
Bell-bottoms hit their peak and creativity flourished. Customized denim—embroidered, studded and patched—became all the rage in fashionable St. Tropez, giving jeans a new glamorous profile. Gradually, the outward symbol of the alternative culture was integrated into mainstream society. Even “respectable” adults accepted denim in their wardrobe. The jeans culture had become associated with youth, and everybody wanted to remain young. Disco reigned, and denim dressed up for night. The ultimate sign of the appropriation of denim by the establishment was the designer jeans wave, which swept America just as the decade came to a close.
Designer jeans took hold in Europe, a sign of the rejection of the utopian ideals of the ’70s and a return to affluence and status. A backlash surfaced in the form of “destroyed” denim, meant as the ultimate in anti-fashion but instantly a major trend. Riding the extremes of boom and bust, labels flooded the market, and then retrenched, as consumers got weary. Acid wash debuted in ’86 and revitalized the scene. In the midst of it all, Levi’s launched its “back to basics” campaign.
The high living and conspicuous consumption of the ’80s proved to many to be an empty pursuit, and the beginning of the ’90s saw a widespread reevaluation of priorities. Facing the next millennium, people became more concerned with the environment, family life and old-fashioned values. This search for quality and authenticity helped to perpetuate the basics boom of the late ’80s, leading to an interest in period originals and in newer lines that recaptured the details and fabrics of the past. Once again adapting to the spirit of the times, jeans represented an old friend, practical and modern yet linked to the purer, simpler life of days gone by.
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