Life mystery solved: This is why jeans are called jeans

Let’s take a trip across Europe for this one

Levi's Wedgie Fit Jeans
Levi's Wedgie Fit Jeans
(Image credit: Instagram / @levis)

Let’s take a trip across Europe for this one

Jeans are a more loyal wardrobe staple than even our most comfy knickers. The simple jean can be dressed up or made super casual, can speak volumes about its wearer, and when you find the right pair you must never let them go (plus buy a bunch of duplicates).

But why are jeans called jeans? Did they used to exclusively belong to a bunch of ladies called Jean?

*Umm no obviously not.*

After we first learned exactly what that little pocket in your jeans is actually for, here's a bit of a history lesson: Jeans first came about in 19th century France, and the material, denim most likely named that because it was made in a town called Nimes.

Now for a bit of a language lesson: In French the word ‘serge’ is used to describe the durable type of fabric that jeans are made of, so originally the material that makes jeans was called ‘serge de Nimes’, as in ‘serge of Nimes.’

Over the passing of time, this was eventually shortened to ‘denim.’

So that is how we got to denim... But why do we call them jeans?

Before America started pretending that they were the ones who were responsible for naming jeans with all those cowboy antics, they were actually really popular across Europe, especially sailors from Genoa in Italy.

Best Denim: The Skinny Jeans Edit

When these sailors were in France they would travel to Nimes to by their ‘serge’ in bulk, so much so that the material was quickly named after the French nickname for sailors from Genoa themselves, which was, you guessed it, ‘jeans.’

However, serge was a mixture of different materials and nothing like the jeans we wear today. Nowadays we wear the American version which came about when the US achieved independence from the British Empire. Rather than trade with European producers, the US used their cotton plantations to produce its own jeans, they just kept the names denim and jeans.

So there you have it, a history lesson in jeans. You’re welcome.

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