Blue Jean Blues

If you’re like me, when you think about bluejeans you think about American cowboys out west. And their Big Hats, French Poodles, and Jewish Tailors. No! Really?

Bluejeans are made from denim, a cotton fabric died blue with indigo. Denim got its name from the city of Nimes in southern France where it was first made – “denim” is short for “De Nimes” which means “from Nimes” in French . We call denim pants jeans because the first denim pants were made in Genoa, Italy and were worn by sailors, who were called “genes”.

Blue jeans as we know them were invented by a Jewish Tailor from Latvia who immigrated to the US in the mid-1800s. After moving around a bunch, he ended up in Reno Nevada where he made tents, blankets, and pants. He used cotton twill and denim he bought from Levi Strauss and Company, a dry-goods supplier, in San Francisco. After trying rivets as a way to strengthen the pockets, he contacted Levi Strauss about going together to get a patent. They did, and the rest is history. Except, we remember the fabric salesman’s name (also Jewish) but not the tailor who invented the pants. His name was Jacob Youphes, which he changed to Jacob Davis.

Thanks for the jeans, Jacob.