As American as apple pie, jeans come in every shape, size and color, and are a must-have for most every person on the planet –which makes it a billion-dollar industry.
Each person in the U.S. has seven pairs of jeans on average, and shoppers buy approximately 450 million pairs of jeans every year, according to Cotton Incorporate. Around the world, 1,240,000,000 pairs of jeans are sold annually, it was reported in 2017 at www.thredup.com. Levi's brand has about $5 billion annual sales worldwide, according to www.u-s-history.com.
When Bavarian immigrant Levi Strauss stitched tent canvas in 1853 to create heavy-duty work pants for minors during the California gold rush, he began a legacy that is a real treasure and American icon: jeans. He first made them more comfortable by using an indigo cotton twill from France that became known as denim, according to levistrauss.com.
As the fashion industry discovered the now-patented pants, they have evolved from overalls, insulated work pants and jackets, to business suits, skirts and as grandpa's held up by suspenders. Jeans were cowboy-tough in the '30s, dungarees in the '50s, hand-embroidered in the '60s, hip-hugger bell-bottom in the '70s, high-waisted and baggy in the '80s and today, skin-hugging jeggings.
Whether sophisticated, ripped or in between, jeans are the centerpiece of every wardrobe. Four reasons jean reign: versatility, comfort, durability and "cool factor" – think button front James Dean.
"Jeans are a way of life," said Angie Workman Cook, at Workman's. "For cowboys, they're everyday wear. No matter what the style, everyone is wearing them."
Workman's carries traditional, modern and casual western jeans for men, she said, and all those for women, plus fashion jeans.
Jennifer Neugin was shopping at One Moore Time Consignment and Boutique store across from Napoli's on Wednesday.
"Jeans make me feel comfortable; I've worn them all my life," Neugin said. "I love my jeans."
It was easy for Neugin to come up with several reasons jeans are so popular.
"They keep my shape, they're cozy and I wore them when I was a teenager because they were in style," she said.
Assisting Neugin was store Manager Kassidy Spradlin.
"Jeans go with every outfit or most outfits," Spradlin said. "And they come in every size, age and gender."
Her favorite brand is American Eagle because of the fit.
Jeans are said to be making a "comeback," though for many, they never went away. Vivid Salon and Boutique's Amy Carter said there will never be a threat to jeans.
"No style, no fabric, no nothing will ever stand in the way of denim blue jeans," Carter said. "They are versatile, they are comfortable, they all look different. The patterns are numerous, the styles are basic to wild."
They are the foundation to everyone's wardrobe and they will remain, said Carter.
"Yoga pants, leggings, pants, joggers are all wonderful. But jeans won't be walking anywhere anytime soon, except for on our bodies."
Denim's history is long and very interesting, said Teresa Williams at Threadz Consignment.
"Jeans were invented 140 years ago out of necessity for a longer-lasting, more durable cotton pant for laborers that could withstand hard work," said Williams. "Levi Strauss owned a dry goods business, where he sold cotton cloth. One day, a customer who was a tailor, ordered denim cloth that he bought from Levi Strauss & Co, and made them stronger by placing copper rivets at the places pants rip the most: pockets and flies."
When he wanted to patent them, the tailor wrote to Levi Strauss and they became partners, Williams said: "They opened a bigger factory, and that is how jeans were born."
Once seen and worn as a sign of rebellion, jeans quickly became a cultural fashion icon, and they remain a wardrobe staple the world over, said Williams.
"Even colored denim can be found in every color of the rainbow," she said. "Jean popularity never waivers; it only increases, and trends come and go with the era: acid wash and stone wash, skinny and flare legs in the '80s and '90s; boot cuts and super low-rise styles in the 2000s, and now, almost every style is trending like, 'mom jeans' and high-waisted jeans and bell bottoms are now back in style and highly sought after."