Jeans: A look at fashion’s most prevalent staple


Though fashion is constantly changing, one thing remains consistent – its obsession with jeans.

Jeans as we know them today began in 1873, when Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis patented their button fly.

Since then, jeans have gone through a major shift.

While first starting out as a “must-have” for factory workers and cowboys due to their durability, jeans have become a fashion staple.

In the ‘50s, jeans were often worn by working class heroes (think Greasers and James Dean), and thus often tied to the notion of rebellion.

The ‘60s brought the hippie movement, and with it, the bell-bottoms – a trend which carried on through most of the ‘70s.

In contrast to the wide bell-bottomed openings of the popular jeans, the punks of the late ‘70s embraced the opposite – skin-tight jeans. The look continued through much of the 80s, until stonewashed denim gained popularity, carrying through into the 90s.

And now? Most people wear the ubiquitous pant.

Chelsey Harding who identifies as a ‘90’s baby’ can’t remember denim not being a part of her look.

“I was born in 1994, jeans were basically all I wore growing up,” said Harding.

“One of my favourite styles, were those big bell bottoms. I liked to pretend I was Christina Aguilera, and sing Genie in a Bottle over and over.”

The ‘90s also saw the popularity of the high waist denim, carpenter jeans, and distressed (torn up – thanks, grunge) denim.

The mid ‘90s then shifted to the polar opposite of high waist – super low-rise hip-huggers. This would also lead into a revival of the bell-bottom jeans from the ‘70s.

A wonderful thing was also born in the late ‘90s – stretchable materials (sometimes thread, sometimes the actual fabric) were added to jeans.



If not for stretch, skinny jeans might not have dominated for the past ten years. But they have.

While skinny jeans started out in the emo circles, they eventually found their way into mainstream fashion to the point where everyone and their parents were wearing them.

High waist styles have come back into play, forgoing the ultra low rise of the ‘90s.

Jean-legging hybrids – jeggings – have also gained prominence. They afford the wearer a jean-like appearance, while providing extreme comfort.

Nursing student Galya Kabbani prefers the controversial jeggings.

“I usually always wear yoga pants, I’m not a big jean fan, but since jeggings are essentially leggings, they’re probably the only types of jeans I regularly wear,” said Kabbani.

History has a tendency to repeat itself – even when it comes to fashion. Maybe it won’t be long until everyone is wearing his or her favourite pair of carpenter jeans.