Wednesday, June 27, 2012

If there is anything that is to represent America it is blue jeans. The men and women workers that developed and worked the land in America probably wore jeans and the way they wore out even told a story of what they do in their jeans. Coal miners wore out the fronts, cowboys wore out the back of the jeans and movie stars still looked like stars in their jeans .
A real jeans person preserves a good pair of jeans and tries to make it last a lifetime. Yes, wear them on special occasions, wear them often, make the shape of the jean mold your body and it will tell tales about your body. It will be worn on your back pocket and assume the shape of your wallet that you might keep imprinted in your back right pocket. Or even be worn on the side you keep your private parts.
There are people that go down in old coal mines looking for old tattered jeans worn and dusty that can appraise for up to $100,000 dollars. They can date jeans from the mid 1800’s by looking at the rivets on the top of the jeans as being unstamped. They are stamped only on the back. One of the oldest denim jackets known to exist is being housed at Levi Strauss where they employ an historian.
The new designers are the biggest users of the historical collections there. The antique jeans are prized by designers because of their wear patterns. Years ago I looked for the stiffest and bluest jeans in the store and bought it. Today people pay more money for the most worn, tattered, holes and torn knees faded pair of jeans and pay top dollar for the effort of making it look lived in.
Patterns are re-created by designers for that all important lived in look. If there are really significant wrinkles on the back of the knee you can tell that either the person spent a lot of time on a horse or did some job where he was bending his knees a lot. Do I really want to wear someone’s else’s jeans?
Cowboys wore them, Elvis wore them and so did bikers like the kind of wise guys Marlon Brando wore in the movie “The Wild One.” They always represented the rugged bad boy look. Demonstrators all over the world put on their jeans to make a statement. No other garment personifies freedom more than denim blue jeans. It has been cool from cowboys to hippies.
Jeans were essentially work wear made for the men to wear in the coal mines where James Davis and Levi Strauss patented the idea to use a metal rivet to hold denim together. Those jeans were made in America along with the fabric denim also made in America until the 1990’s where companies like Levi’s began to shut down most of their American manufacturing. The only ones left are the quirky designers that make their own jeans in their small shops and charge $300 to $1,000 for a hand sewn hand riveted jean.
Go ahead and empty your bank account for a jean made by Roy, Roy Slaper. He is a one man sweat shop who uses 14 different sewing machines to make a single jean. He designs and makes each garment out of a one room work shop in Oakland, California. He even designed the denim pattern of the fabric. It almost reminds you of colonial times where you had the cobbler that made custom made shoes from start to finish in a one room shop in town. Is this the kind of manufacturing we have to have now to restore the words Made In America sadly yes. China and the Phillippines are stamping out hundreds of pairs of jeans per second.
One thing we still have manufactured here in a factory is the denim fabric. Cone Mills Corporation has a White Oak Plant in Greensborough, North Carolina. The fabric is woven on looms over 50 years old using a process that hasn’t changed in hundreds of years. Sounds historic but should the only manufacturers left be working dinosaurs from another era? Should a lack of progress be rewarded? Well, give them a plaque to hang up for preservation of old machinery.
In the world of denim jeans what’s old is new again. There are new small manufacturers of jean labels like Sugar Cane or Iron Heart that even go as far as to suggest that you don’t wash your jeans for up to six months in order for you to really get that lived in look and smell. Phew! No one wore their jeans better than James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. You are wearing your own history every day. Jeans have woven in them a history of work and play.
How often do you wear jeans to work? 42% say most of the time
                                                            12% say sometimes
                                                            14% say hardly ever
                                                            32% say never

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