My Relationship with Denim? It’s Complicated

When Yves Saint Laurent said, “I wish I had invented blue jeans. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity-all I hope for in my clothes”, I couldn’t agree more. Denim is a perfect personification of a beautiful person, you would want to fall in love with. Denim is beautiful as well as reliable, consistent and loyal. When you are confused what to wear, it comes to your rescue, like a savior. It always makes you feel good about yourself. Denim has really strong shoulders, where I could put my head and….o wait, I spaced out, thinking Denim as a human. LOLz. But I am sure you will agree if I say, that it isn’t temporary like some fashion madness. It is definitely here to stay, forever. AND, it has all the qualities we want in a good relationship. 😉

However, I have a very complicated relationship with denim. Now you are really wondering, what’s wrong with me. Since I just now shared how amazing and perfect, denims are. Since I already titled this blog pieces with the relationship status of mine with denims, allow me to share few fun facts, right here, and you will know, why exactly I am so confused about my affair with denims (sigh).

  1. Why is DENIM CALLED DENIM? Although denims were first invented in Genoa, Italy, in 1500s, the fabric was imported from a French city called Nimes. ‘De Nimes’ means from Nimes! WHY IS JEANS CALLED JEANS? The term Jeans was derived from the word genes, which is French word for the City of Genoa (in Italy) – the place of birth of denim jeans!

2.  In 1951 popular singer Bing Crosby was refused a hotel room as he was wearing jeans. That’s because during that time, jeans were worn by rebels and places personifying sophistication( like a hotel)avoided it. In response to that, Levi’s designed a denim jacket especially for him! How cool was that, no?

3. Levis Strauss is seen as the inventor of ‘BlueJeans’. In fact he patented the style in 1873 including the technique of using rivets to strengthen pocket edges! May 20th is regarded as blue jeans ‘ birthday .Yes, you read that right because that’s the day Strauss patented his idea. Although created it, he never ever wore a pair of his own jeans. Why? Because initially Jeans were made to be worn by miners and laborers.  

4.  You already know that denim is one of the most durable fabric. The oldest pair of denim jeans was found in California in 1998 which was apparently about 115 years old, at the time of it’s finding!? Having said that, we should remember that denims are long lasting and unlike other pieces of garments, it’s versatility allows us to re-wear them for years. So, may be just have few staple pieces of denim in your closet. 

5. We are definitely happy to know how reliable and long-lasting denims are, but that doesn’t mean, it’s sustainable. Yes, you read that right. Growing concerns in relation to the environmental and health impact of denim fabric in the production process of it is something we should definitely talk about. One pair of jeans that we wear has consumed thousands of litres of water, an embarrassing amount of chemicals and a huge amount of energy consumption. 

6. The magic of that gorgeous looking distressed jeans has costed many garment workers’ lives. Sandblasting is one of the cheapest and the easiest way for creating the distressing look. Often performed in a low ventilated work floor, without safety equipment or even proper training, the garment workers have been subjected to fatal illness, especially related to lungs. In fact, in response to the growing number of deaths and illness among young denim workers in the garment producing countries, the Turkish government introduced a national ban on sandblasting in 2009, in the country.  

7, 10,000 Litres of water are needed to make a single pair of jeans. Yes, I know that Earth is known as the ‘blue planet’ because we have 71% of the surface covered with water but unfortunately only 0.3% of it is usable to human. Just thought of reminding you this. 

8. Cotton is the most important raw material in denim. A study conducted by J. Hannak , R. Steinberg, and K. Balakrishnan regarding textile units in India revealed that pulmonary function in textile workers decreased significantly with exposure to cotton dust over a long period of time. Another study on textile units in Mumbai, India indicated an 11-33% incidence of chronic bronchitis in textile workers. AND another study revealed an increase in the rate of occurrence with an increase in exposure to cotton dust.

8. You have, for sure heard of Stone Wash, Acid Wash, Rinse Wash, Enzyme Wash, Bleach Wash. Did you ever wonder about the process and chemicals used in creating these washes? This is an extremely detailed and elaborate study on this subject, and I believe we can surely dedicate a blog post entirely on it.

Denim is far from the most sustainable textile used in the production of garments, but let me tell you that things are gradually changing. With the advent of technology, awareness and garment welfare bodies, the denim industry is changing gradually. Quite a few things have changed already and today denim is produced in more responsible ways—ways that use less water, fewer chemicals and less energy, if you have heard of hydro-less denim!

As per Business Insiders there are quite a few brands using eco-friendly materials like organic cotton and adapting sustainable production process that uses less water, chemicals and energy. I am so glad to read about it on their blogpost. Do give it a read, as I have backlinked them here

What is your relationship with your denim jeans? Do let me know on the comment section. I hope this blog helps you to be judicious with regards to your fashion choices. Will come up soon with another piece about slow and sustainable fashion! Until then Obrigada Amigas! 🙂

 

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