This is nothing I should proud of as a woman but I only need 30 minutes from the moment my alarm clock rings to hopping onto the next train to work. My little secret is to have a perfect solution for all the days when I have no time to decide what to wear: Jeans!
Written by Kyoko
I am free to do so because – luckily – my company doesn’t have a strict dress code. But other than that, I feel that jeans are much more accepted in the society than they used to be. Paying a little attention to the people around me, I think there must be about 4 out of 10 people wearing jeans in Tokyo – pretty amazing! Is that only because celebrities are wearing them on TV?
with boots. short jeans
Looking at all these people dressed in jeans…. I wonder what we would wear, if there weren’t any!? And when did we actually start wearing jeans that much?
Well… I did a little history of jeans-research.
Where does the name “jeans” come from?
Unfortunately, there are several theories. One of them believes that “Jean” is related to the Italian seaport “Geneva”, since many trousers around the 17th century were made out of fabric from Geneva. Therefore, people began to call any men’s trousers “jeans.” Another “Geneva-connection” would be, that the Genovese Navy was wearing all purpose trousers … Hmmm!
So, the Italians actually invented jeans?
Well, unless I can go back in time I cannot really find out what the truth would be! It’s little bit off-topic but when I was younger Japanese people called jeans “G-pan”. Why? Because the G.I. stationed in Japan after the war were wearing jeans – hence “G-pan” (pan as a short form of pants)!
Jeans were believed to be born around 150 years ago in the USA.
One day the tailor Jacob Davis was asked to make heavy-duty trousers for woodsmen. He made pants out of canvas sheets and in order to add strength he knocked in tin rivets around the pockets. Another origin of jeans.
Considering the harsh environment in the US around that time (gold-rush, exploring the West…) heavy-duty work clothes were one of the very basic needs.
Later, instead of canvas sheets denim became popular and indigo dying was applied, because it worked as a repellent of bugs and snakes. So basically up until that point, jeans were nothing but fully functional work clothes.
When did jeans become fashionable?
Answer: after World War II. That is when Hollywood movies started featuring actors and actresses in jeans: Marlon Brando in “The Wild One (1953)”, James Dean in “Rebel Without A Cause (1955)” and Marilyn Monroe in “River of No Return (1954)” . Jeans were an essential part of pop culture and gradually lost their image of “worker’s clothes”.
It is trend to wear them very low.
a girl in Shibuya
Shapes and colors
Once that step had been completed, the whole big jeans-design-wave started: bell-bottom jeans, slim jeans – you name any shape! Remember the times of “tight fit” before stretch jeans were introduced? Or were you even one of the guys soaking in a hot bath with their jeans on to get the right look? I always wondered, how they ever took them off again…
As for different colors: bleaching jeans started in the middle of the 70′s, “stone wash jeans” were introduced at the beginning of the 80′s and then “chemical wash” followed in the mid 80′s. It later became common to buy “faded” jeans – and now you have the whole spectrum to chose from anyway!
Oh, talking of colors, GAP has just started selling AGE WASH JEANS for those, who are too impatient to dedicate some love to their pants and wear them until they get the right “age”. Those age wash jeans come in 5 different shades called “1, 3, 5, 7 and 10″. What are those numbers? The number of years or how “old” those jeans supposed to look like. Wow…. I am speechless.
There are even several online tailor-made jeans shops in Japan. Customers are either people having trouble to find their right size or those wanting to create their unique, “only-one”- jeans. Obviously jeans are important!
Now that we looked at history of jeans very briefly, one can say that right now jeans are certainly the most important fashion item.
What I wanted to know is how real people wear and view jeans, so I decided to ask a whole bunch myself.
Here are some of the answers I got from friends, colleges and people on the street. I hope you’ll enjoy them!
What do you like about jeans?
“Even dirt can add some flavor to your jeans. You don’t need to worry about being messy!”
“They make you feel both sexy and tough, and (like me) they just get better the older they get.”
“I enjoy the process of changing color over time.”
“The more you wear them, the better they fit your body.”
“They are tough – that’s what I like about them.”
“I love them since my parents used to own a jeans shop.”
“They are good for sleeping in when it is cold.”
“They symbolize a state of decadence (decadere= falling appart). A part of the pair is HOW they have been treated.”
“Universial fit for many occasions (can be casual, elegant, trashy, sexy, sporty, trendy) .”
“I love them because they are quite comfy!”
How many jeans do you have?
One third answered “6 – 8 pairs.”
Others answered “2 to 5″, “just one” or “more than 10 pairs”.
One of them answered “I used to have 50 pairs, but then I decided to give them away.”
How many times a week do you wear jeans?
“Everyday” or “almost everyday” was the most common answer. I guess that’s partly because the people who were wiling to answer my questions were fans of jeans in the first place. My “least often candidate” answered “Once every two months.” and one lady answered: “I mostly wear them on friday nights: when others dress UP I like to dress DOWN!”
Is there any particular jeans-brand you like?
“Levi’s” was the most popular answer among them.
Other brands mentioned were “Lucky”, “Seven”, “Abercrombie & Fitch”, “Rotar”, “Glory”, “H&M jeans”, “Wrangler”, “Dunderdon”, “G-Star”, “Diesel”, “Tan Boon Fong” and “D&G”.
Some people simply anwered “I don’t care about brands.”
“People who claim to like jeans and at the same time not to care about brands usually lie – or they are in denial. The right jeans are like secret weapons: they magically enhance the (right) curves, make the bum you usually whine about, look hot and your legs long.”
With Japanese traditional sandal, “Geta.” This girl arranged her jeans by herself.
They both do “roll-up” but this one is more manly.
How much is the maximum cost you are willing to pay for jeans?
“Don’t care as long as they are good quality.”
“It is more like a “meeting only once in a lifetime”- thing. When I find a pair I really like, I just buy them!”
“Preferably less than 10,000 Yen.”
“Hmmm, 20,000 Yen is really the maximum, no matter how good they are.”
“My cheapest pair was $ 15. Even if I bought more expensive ones I usually ended up not wearing them.”
“I preferably get them for free!”
“About 30 Euro.”
“I might pay up to 40,000 Yen for a pair which I really like. I usually pay about 20,000 Yen. I think it’s ok to spend a lot of money on jeans because they last a long time.”
When you buy your jeans, what kind of things do you look for?
“Shape, colour, price!”
“How well they fit.”
“How they looks when I wear them.”
“If it’s makes my body beautiful.”
“If it’s comfortable.”
“That I need less than half a minute to slip into them. If a shop assistant tells you that jeans will “become more comfy” once you’ve bought them … just keep in mind that they are salesmen!”
Is there any occasion you hesitate to wear jeans?
To my surprise, “I don’t care at all” were about a 5th of all the answers. Wow!”
“When you already know your dates or clients are wearing formal attire.”
“When you visit some place which has strict dress code.”
“When you meet your client.”
“When you don’t want people to think you are that casual at a business setting.”
“When you visit a temple or shrine.”
“When I go to a Japanese restaurant, because it is hard to bend my knees.”
“When they say “NO JEANS!” – then I won’t wear them.”
“Hmmm… only for certain festivities (xmas and stuff) or when jeans aren’t as comfy as e.g. a baggy pants (long travels etc.)”
“I always hesitate to wear jeans.”
“I think jeans are pretty standard and I also feel like they are “accepted” – it rather depends what you combine them with.”
“Someone’s wedding ceremony or funeral.”
embroidery on the pocket
Japanese style fabric on the pocket
Japanese character written on the back pocket
If you were banned to wear jeans, would you be in trouble? What would you be wearing instead?
The answers basically split into “no trouble at all” and “big trouble” – candidates.
“I would be in so much trouble…. I probably had to start going out with my underwear…”
“I would wear them secretly.”
“If they were banned, then I would probably be late for classes ‘cos I have to start thinking about what to wear in the morning!”
“I might wear leather pants.”
“I would definitely vote against Jeans prohibition! I always ride my bike so I really need jeans!”
“I would get so pissed if I was banned to wear them.”
“No problem for me! I would simply wear non-denims in the same shape.”
“I can always think of something. I am just a little lazy recently, that is the only reason I wear them so much.”
“Baby i got slacks for days…..”
“Can’t live without them….I would probably start wearing completely different clothes such as dresses everyday.”
“No problem at all: I could for example just turn my MINK coat into a pair of adorable pants… just kidding… REALLY!”
Anything you would like to add?
“Jeans are so cool because you don’t need to worry about seasons much.”
“I recently enjoy customizing my own jeans. It’s so much fun!”
“They are worker’s clothes after all!”
“Be brave: take your old tight denims and cut the legs off with a pair of scissors. Be thorough here and cut them just inches below the hips – voila! HOTPANTS! Pair them with rubyred peep toes and cause a traffic jam while you walk majestically through Shibuya ”
“Thank you for asking!”
“Jeans are blue.”
“I don’t wash them too much, ‘cos I usually only wear one pair until they die on me. Then I get another pair and keep the old one in my cupboard. Each pair of jeans has been to many different places with me and seen many things – good and bad.”
paints and damage
(For people who have lived in another countries or from abroad) Comparing your country to Japan: Do you think the trend of jeans is any different?
“When I was in the US I couldn’t really trust the cleaning service, so I started wearing more casual clothes such as jeans. When I got back to Japan, I was so surprised about how much young people care about their looks. I don’t really wear jeans anymore because I feel that I have to be a “jeans expert” in order to wear one. Haha.”
“I think in Europe it’s quite common to see men wearing flared jeans. In Japan there aren’t that many men wearing them, mostly just women.”
“Not different, just delayed.”
“My country invented jeans and then destroyed them. No class assholes.”
“I feel like people in Japan are much more aware of fashion on the whole: they care more and are willing to pay more for the right brand, the right look, the “in-model”. I guess other “fashionable countries” basically just follow Japan, meaning that shopping maniacs are also increasing constantly…”
“I dont know. There is certainly an ideal of what jeans are that is essentially similar – with little variations in each cultural setting.”
What type are YOU!?
Everybody seems to have a special feeling for jeans! That is probably because no pair of jeans is ever alike and because they keep changing constantly according to your life style and fashion style. Now – what is your opinion about jeans?