Blue Jeans: A Brief History

Jeans are now one of the most ubiquitous clothing items in the world--worn by people of every age, profession, gender and style. That being said, the origin of the jean belongs to just one group: the pioneers of the American West. Here’s the story of how jeans rose to the enormous popularity that they now enjoy:

The Gold Rush

In 1853, a German-born entrepreneur named Levi Strauss moved to San Fransisco in order to chase his fortune as a vendor of all types of dry goods. Over the years, Mr. Strauss became well-respected in the community, making connections and growing the company that his brother had started back in New York. One connection in particular turned out to be extremely important: a tailor by the name of Jacob Davis.

Davis served hard-working clientele who often spent their days in the gold mines, and thus needed clothing that could stand up to a great deal of wear and tear. To accommodate those needs, Davis came up with a novel invention that would change the world of clothing and fashion forever: he place metal rivets into his pants and the points of strain (i.e. the corners of pockets and the base of the button-fly.) By combining this new bit of technology with an extremely durable material (denim,) Davis was able to create a piece of clothing that would outlast all the competition.

Recognizing the potential that this idea had and understanding that he would need funding in order to get it off the ground, Davis went to Strauss and proposed that the two go into business together. The rest, as they say, is history: in 1873, Levi Strauss & Co. patented their timeless invention, the blue jean trouser.

Cowboys and Movie Stars

Though the gold-miners of California directly inspired the blue jean, it was the Cowboys of the wide west who brought it to popularity. Because blue jeans offered durability and protection perfectly suited to the rough ranch work and on-the-go lifestyle of cowboys, they quickly became synonymous with the work. The Levi Strauss company experienced increasing success as cowboys across the west began using their products on a regular basis.

So what is it that turned blue jeans into a cultural phenomena that is now ubiquitous in virtually the entire world? The answer is simple: the movies. William Heart, a silent film actor famous for his roles in many of the world’s first westerns. John Wayne would further advance the image of the jean-wearing western hero--along with the popularity of blue jeans themselves!

The Ongoing Legacy of Jeans

You don’t need us to tell you that jeans are now worn by people all around the world--and accompanied with virtually every type of accessory imaginable. Ironically enough, however, it can be difficult in this day and age to accompany blue jeans with the traditional western button-down, big belt-buckle ensemble that helped make jeans famous in the first place! That’s where Bronco Bill’s comes into the picture. We offer a wide selection of western apparel and accessories, all available on our convenient online shop. Visit our website today to browse our selection!