The use of the word ‘immortality’ in my post title certainly implies a sense of the mythicisim that usually accompanies folklore. To apply this sense to a fabric may be somewhat hyperbolic; denim is extremely understated yet somehow sophisticated and versatile. It has become one of the most-used clothing materials today. While the fact that it is commonly worn signals popularity (rightly so) and prominence, the ubiquitous nature of denim has also however, lent it an air of promiscuity, a sense of denim’s being too cheap, too common, too slutty. I am pro denim only when it is designed with care and worn in the way it was designed to be worn.
Historically, denim developed out of France and was originally called serge de Nimes, but the name was shortened to ‘denim’ after some time. It was only in the late 18th-Century that denim was available in the United States, where it continues to be popular in the form of the ultimate wardrobe staple: jeans. (Footnote: ‘jean’ formerly denoted a different, lighter, cotton fabric. ‘Jean’ comes from the French word for Genoa, Italy (Gênes), where the first denim trousers were made.)
In contemporary fashion today, it is treated with different dyes or effects and there are many upcoming fashion labels which exclusively – or almost exclusively – produce denim pieces. Marques’Almeida, a young London-based design duo brand, specialises in producing clothing made from the material. Denim for them is a way of life: it is woven, cut up, distressed, hemmed, unhemmed and treated with various dyes to produce swinging low-cut jeans or asymmetrical tops/jackets. Their London Fashion Week runway showcase makes a statement for the material each season and the label’s raison d’etre makes the perennial appeal of the fabric very apparent.
June 2013 saw the opening of major luxury department store Selfridges’ denim studio, which claims to be the world’s biggest denim department. Retailing popular contemporary denim labels such as J Brand and 7 For All Mankind, Selfridge’s, and its seminal decision to open this department, clearly shows a growing market trend for the material as our appetite for and consumption of it continually expands.