Although many believe Levi Strauss to be the inventor of blue jeans, the word originally came from the French phrase “blue de Genes” or the blue of Genoa. Since the Renaissance, Genoese sailors wore trousers made from denim, which eventually became white from washing and wearing in the salt water and sun. Later in the 19th century, they became popular again, as men such as Stauss used denim as a rugged material for workers’ pants.
Recently, 17th-century paintings by a northern Italian artist, dubbed the “Master of the Blue Jeans” have been discovered and are on show at the Canesso Gallery in Paris. According to curators, the blue tint of the fabric was painted with the exact same indigo used to dye denim.
“The works are very attached to the detail of clothing — it was very rare for a painter to characterise the poor with such detail. And there is blue jean in every painting except one.” said curator Gerlinde Gruber, who helped to identify the anonymous artist’s works.
Now you know that those blue jeans you’re probably wearing are one of the few items of modern clothing that has origins dating back four centuries!
- Denim: From Cowboys to Catwalks: A Visual History of the World’s Most Legendary Fabric
- The Denim Bible Jeans Encyclopedia II
- Jeans: A Cultural History of an American Icon