I’ll confess, I have nine pair of jeans ranging from designer blue denims I found on sale (no way I’d pay $250 for them!) to black biker jeans that have seen better days. Jeans go everywhere in Texas, but according to a piece from the BBC, all the world wears jeans.
Jeans were banned as unsuitable school attire when I was in high school. When I look back, they weren’t even popular outside of school. Then I went to college. There jeans--Levis and Wranglers mostly--became a uniform of sorts for a certain cross-section of the collegiate population. “Designer jeans” was still an oxymoron, not the zillion dollar commodity of today, and the concept of broken-in, pre-distressed clothing conjured images of Goodwill or Salvation Army stores.
As I’ve traveled over the past few decades, I’ve noticed a radical change in attitude toward jeans in Europe. There was a time when I wouldn’t have dreamed of wearing them on the streets of Paris or London because the locals would have instantly pegged me as an American tourist. Now? I rarely pack anything else and fit right in regardless of the locale. Attire that once denoted a laborer or cowboy has seeped into every culture and every social strata, uniting us under a denim flag. The BBC piece backs up my observations:
[Jeans] is a subject that is relatively unstudied, says anthropologist Danny Miller, whose book Blue Jeans will be published next month.
In every country he has visited - from the Philippines to Turkey, India and Brazil - Miller has stopped and counted the first 100 people to walk by, and in each he found that almost half the population wore jeans on any given day. Jeans are everywhere, he says, with the exception of rural tracts of China and South Asia.
Okay, maybe Bhutan and Burma still have a way to go, but the rest of the world seems to be onboard. Really, how cool is that?
When I was 20, a prediction that my mother and father would one day wear jeans would have made me collapse in hysterical laughter or shudder in horror. And yet, the old folks don the denim these days along with the rest of us. That may not be progress—honestly, are jeans still jeans when they have elastic waistbands—but it is change. And let’s be grateful to the fashion gods that lycra stretch pants never caught on the way jeans did!
Fess up. How do you feel about jeans—love ‘em, hate ‘em, haven’t worn a pair since 1995?