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National Blue Jeans Day

An American cultural icon, and one of the most popular pieces of clothing in the world, blue jeans, or simply, jeans, are worn and celebrated today on National Blue Jeans Day. Blue jeans got their start in the nineteenth century. Jacob Davis, a tailor from Reno, Nevada, had been making pants for miners, but they weren't sturdy enough, with pockets and a button fly that were particularly susceptible to tears. In 1871, a miner's wife asked him to make them stronger, and he responded by using metal fasteners to make copper riveted trousers. On May 20, 1873, Davis partnered with Levi Strauss to patent the riveted pants, and then to sell them, with Strauss running the business and Davis working as production manager. By the time their patent expired in 1890, Levi Strauss & Co. was well on its way to being one of the most iconic brands of jeans. It was that same year that they started making their pants with blue denim, which was more flexible than the duck cloth they had been using; with their 501 style, their jeans became blue jeans.

Blue jeans soon became more widespread, not only worn by miners, but by other blue-collar workers, like farmers, cattlemen, and factory workers. They eventually moved from workwear into the realm of casualwear and fashion. A shift from solely being blue-collar attire was evident as early as the 1930s, and by the 1960s and '70s, they had achieved their cultural status. In the 1950s, Marlon Brando wore them in The Wild One, while James Dean donned them in Rebel Without a Cause. It was at this time that jeans became associated with rebellion, greasers, and teenagers. They were embraced by youth subcultures, and then by young people in general. There was more acceptance for them by the 1960s, and they were part of general fashion and casualwear by the 1970s. Today there are many different styles and brands of blue jeans. Any and all of these are celebrated and worn today on National Blue Jeans Day!

How to Observe National Blue Jeans Day

Put on your favorite pair of blue jeans or buy a new pair! Get outside and show off your style, or lounge around inside and read a book like Jeans: A Cultural History of an American Icon or watch a film like Riveted: The History of Jeans.

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