Denim is a sturdy cotton warp-faced textile in which the weft passes under two or more warp threads. This twill weaving produces a diagonal ribbing that distinguishes it from cotton duck.
The most common denim is indigo denim, in which the warp thread is dyed, while the weft thread is left white. As a result of the warp-faced twill weaving, one side of the textile is dominated by the the blue warp threads and the other side is dominated by the white weft threads. This causes blue jeans to be white on the inside. The indigo dyeing process, in which the core of the warp threads remains white, creates denim’s signature fading.
The name “denim” derives from French serge de Nîmes, meaning “serge from Nîmes”.Denim was traditionally colored blue with indigo dye to make blue jeans, although “jean” formerly denoted a different, lighter, cotton fabric. The contemporary use of the word “jeans” comes from the French word for Genoa, Italy (Gênes), where the first denim trousers were made. Denim has been used in the USA since the mid 19th century. Denim initially gained popularity in 1873 when Jacob Davis, a tailor from Nevada, manufactured the first pair of “rivet-reinforced” denim pants.
His concept for making reinforced jeans was inspired when a lady customer requested a pair of durable and strong pants for her husband to chop wood. When Davis was about to finish making the denim jeans, he saw some copper rivets lying on a table and used the rivets to fasten the pockets. At this time, clothes for Western labourers, such as teamsters, surveyors, and miners, were not very durable. Soon, the popularity of denim jeans began to spread rapidly and Davis was overwhelmed with requests.
He soon sold 200 pairs to workers in need of heavy work clothing. Nevertheless, because of the production capacity in his small shop, Davis was struggling to keep up with the demand . He then wrote a proposal to the dry goods wholesaler Levi Strauss & Co. that had been supplying Davis with bolts of denim fabric. Davis’s proposal was “to patent the design of the rivet-reinforced denim pant, with Davis listed as inventor, in exchange for certain rights of manufacture”. Levi Strauss & Co. was so impressed by the possibilities for profit in the manufacture of the garment that they then hired Davis to be in charge of the mass-production in San Francisco.