Jeans began life as a utility garment because of the hard-wearing nature of the fabric, yet from their origins as the informal uniform of America’s gold Rush and timber industry, they have evolved into a stylish staple that features on catwalks and in high-end fashion magazines. A good pair of jeans can last a lifetime, their durability matched by a flexibility that means they quickly mould to fit one’s shape. Many of us regard our favorite pair of jeans as a familiar friend associated with key moments in our lives.
Many of us also have multiple pairs of jeans. According to a survey, the average American woman owns 8.3 pairs and the British were to spend some 1.51£ billion on 86 million pairs of jeans!
Jeans can now be bought at every price point, in every colour and in innumerable styles.
They have come a long way from their origins as the working man’s uniform.
DID YOU KNOW?
While jeans could appear to be an ideal example of sustainable fashion, they actually exemplify the darker side of clothing production. Jeans are made from cotton, which needs large amounts of land and even larger amounts of pesticides to grow. Achieving that blue denim rinse requires numerous dyeing processes that consume huge amounts of water. According to Levi’s, over three thousand litres of water will be used during the full product life-cycle of a SINGLE pair of 501 jeans, from the cotton production and manufacturing processes to their regular washing at home.
THE UGLY TRUTH
Since the 1980’s, jeans have often been designed to appear pre-worn, a look achieved by sandblasting, which has led to many garment workers contracting the incurable lung disease silicosis.
In Turkey, where the backlash against sandblasting first began, there have been 1200 registered cases of silicosis, though many doctors believe the number to be much higher. In Bangladesh, where there are some thousand garment-making factories, jeans production employs thousands. Employees often work eleven hours a day for as little as 38$ a MONTH– the living wage in Bangladesh is 100$ a month, in conditions where the air is filled with tiny particles of silica.
A number of companies have moved to ban sandblasting, including Levi’s, H&M and C&A. Versace and Gucci have also made a commitment to stop using the process in the manufacturing of jeans. The clothing industry’s reliance on subcontractors, however, makes it difficult to enforce such bans. One way to end the practice of sandblasting jeans would be to create your own wear and tear.
Who else remembers using a pumice stone to soften up a new pair jeans and make them look worn-in? 🙂
I do, when the market was not that accesible to us, I used to do my own jeans that would look worn-in, they were so cool and not once I was trying to accessorize them, cut them, basically restyling so it would look like a new pair without having to buy another one. I do recommend you to do the same! 🙂
Probably you’ll be wondering why after knowing what’s behind the beautiful jeans fashion I am still posting these pictures in a full denim outfit!
Unfortunately, I was not aware of all that information either, until I read it in one of the various fashion books I have bought not long ago, after taking these beautiful pictures in downtown Dubai planning to write a completly different article on it, but I believe little awareness wouldn’t mind anyone.
Whoever knows me, they know how in love I am with the denim since I was little and I used to have a proper collection of jeans, when I left Romania I counted around 50 pairs, which have been donated later on, so let’s say I was doing litlle good too.
Yes, I still love jeans in all forms, jackets, skirts, you name it. But what I promise to myself is that I will try to use them as much as possible and restyle from time to time, whenever I get bored instead of buying some other pairs.
Do you know any other interesting facts about jeans or other garments/fabrics? Please, share them with us in the comment section, we’ll be all more than happy to know as much as possible to avoid doing major mistakes with our clothing pieces.
Oufit: Zara jeans, Mango jacket, Steve Madden shoes, D&G sunglasses;
Location: Downtown Dubai and Karak House;