Denim or Jeans?


Sturdy blue twill fabric / cloth produced in Nimes, Southern France that became known as denim. The town of Nîmes was an important textile centre in the 17th century. At start it was weaved from wool and silk, which were later replaced by cheaper cotton, imported from Africa. Serge de Nîmes or simply “de Nîmes” was available in only one colour – indigo and thus began the history of indigo dyed denim. Traditionally denim is made of twill woven indigo dyed warp yarn and natural colour weft yarn. Denim was known as workwear fabric since late 19th century. It became popular as casual wear in the mid 20th century.


Image: denim twill fabric


Image: dyed warp and undyed (natural color) weft



Besides Nîmes, blue twill fabric was also known in Genoa, which is called Gênes in French. Sailors wore their clothes made of that fabric and called them blue de Gênes, which eventually turned to – jeans.



The term rivet is commonly misused when referring to the metal hardware at the corners of jeans pockets. The part visible on the outside of the jeans is the “burr” – the”rivet” is the nail that pushes through from the inside. The rivet was originally used on horse blankets by a tailor named Jacob Davis of Reno, Nevada, who later worked with Levi Strauss. In 1873 they received the patent for “improvement in fastening pocket-openings”. This idea of work pants reinforced with metal burrs/rivets is essentially what gave rise to the modern-day blue jean.


Image: rivet and burr