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Where Does Premium Denim Come From?

Blue denim has been a symbol of many things in America over the past two centuries and continues to evolve today. But where does denim come from? And what is the difference between premium denim and cheap denim? Read on to learn about the origins of denim and what sets our premium denim apart from the rest.

The buttons and tag of a pair of medium wash denim jeans

Italian Twill and the Origins of Denim

Genoa (Gênes in French) had long been known for its high-quality cotton corduroy cloth, which was referred to as jeane or jean, after the city. The superior composition of this famous cloth inspired weavers in the French town of Nîmes to create a similar cotton twill fabric in which the white weft is passed under two or more warp threads colored with indigo dye. The result is a fabric that is blue on one side and white on the other side. This new fabric was strong and durable and came to be known as “denim” (“serge de Nîmes” or “serge from Nîmes”).

The First Pair of Jeans

Where does American denim come from and what are the origins of denim jeans? When Levi Strauss emigrated from Germany to New York in 1851 to help his brother with the family dry-goods store, he took denim fabric with him to sell to customers in his new country. Later on, Strauss struck out on his own and moved to San Francisco where he took advantage of the Gold Rush to open another branch of the family store.

On May 20, 1873, a tailor by the name of Jacob W. Davis approached Levi Strauss in search of strong cloth for a pair of work pants for one of his customers (Davis made functional goods, such as horse blankets, tents, and covers for wagons). He purchased a length of denim from Levi Strauss & Co and made a new kind of pant that he strengthened with copper rivets on the pockets and flies. Davis asked Levi Strauss to back him financially in patenting this new kind of work pant and Strauss accepted. The two opened a factory and denim jeans were born.

Denim Jeans: From Workers’ Pants to Fashion Icon

After the origins of denim and the birth of jeans in the late 1800s, these new hard-wearing pants became popular in America among workers, miners, farmers, and cowboys—due to their unparalleled strength and durability. In the 1950s, “cool jeans” began to be worn by men as an everyday garment and were adopted by women one decade later as an expression of counter-cultural fashion. By the 1980s, designer jeans came onto the scene and continued to evolve in cut, color, length, and style.

Trends in denim continue to evolve and change in the twenty-first century. Be sure to check out our blog about A Decade of Denim Trends for styles that have become popular over the last ten years. If you love jeans, you’ve probably worn a number of these styles yourself!

The Quality Factor

At the time of the origins of denim in the nineteenth century, jeans were made from 100% premium cotton and were known for their outstanding quality and strength. But what about modern denim? Where does this denim come from? As jeans became a fashion item and garment manufacturers moved out of America, synthetic imitations of denim were created and sweatshop workers started to make low-quality jeans by the millions.

While first-world customers were delighted at the lower prices of these new fast-fashion jeans, the quality and durability that denim was known for began to plummet. The new jeans started to split at the seams long before their premium counterparts even began to show signs of wear and tear. After all, at the origins of denim, jeans were made for the rough and tumble of manual labor, so they should last far longer than a season or two!

Where Does Xabi Jeans’ Premium Denim Come From?

As customer awareness about the pitfalls of fast-fashion increases, small-scale manufacturers like Xabi Jeans are returning to the origins of denim and crafting men’s jeans and women’s jeans that would make the weavers from Genoa and Nîmes proud. In our company, we source our premium denim from a factory in Milan, Italy, where skilled textile workers are treated fairly and only the highest-quality cotton is used.

To give our jeans the amount of stretch that our customers are used to, our premium cotton denim is constructed with small amounts of polyester and elastane while maintaining the fabric’s heritage of quality and strength. You can learn more about the origins of our denim and the process we use to craft your denim jeans by hand by reading our Behind the Scenes page and our company’s story. Most importantly, support the quality denim industry by purchasing our premium jeans and enjoying their enduring comfort and strength for years to come.