When Levi’s declares their jeans “the original,” they’re telling the truth. The company invented the modern blue jean—in which rivets reinforce stress points—in 1873. “Levi’s is the father of all of us,” says Imogene + Willie cofounder Carrie Eddmenson. “We have major respect for them.”
Jeans were originally called “waist overalls.” The term “jeans” originated in the Italian town of Genoa, where soldiers wore clothing made from a tough, durable, blue-dyed fabric called fustagno genovese. By 1960, the name derived from this tongue-twisting Italian term was common enough for Levi’s to use it in an advertisement for its denim.
And while we’re on the topic of word origins, “denim” is a derivation of a French wool/silk blend called Serge de Nimes, which originated in the 17th Century.
In case you were wondering, acid wash jeans are created by washing normal denim in an industrial machine loaded with permanganate-soaked pumice. When Carrie was a teenager, part of her job at her family’s denim company was loading permanganate rocks into the washing machines. People who go by the DIY method use chlorine, which is how it was done in the early days of acid washing.
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