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© Misael Nevarez/Unsplash
© Misael Nevarez/Unsplash
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Reno, Nevada Home of the Blue Jean

Picture of Jill Di Donato
Fashion Editor
Updated: 6 January 2017
Cities are known for originating many cultural wonders, from cuisine to art. But cities also are home to your favorite staple garments. The next time you open your wardrobe, you can explore a little bit of historical intrigue just by picking out the day’s outfit.
© Christopher Campbell/Unsplash
© Christopher Campbell/Unsplash

What It Is

A photo posted by Levi’s® (@levis) on

The blue jean is the unisex uniform for casual cool. You can dress up your blue jeans, dress them down, and wear them in a variety of styles. From overalls to bell-bottoms, blue jeans convey a cultural zeitgeist, one emblematic of freedom, and the American spirit.

Where It’s From

© Cardboard America/Flickr
© Cardboard America/Flickr

The birthplace of the blue jean is Reno, Nevada. The Wild West’s gold rush inspired the blue jeans, which became the uniform du jour of the dude ranch.

When It Originated

A photo posted by Levi’s® (@levis) on

The first pair of blue jeans was stitched around 1873. According to Levi Strauss & Co., Jacob Davis, a Reno tailor was so impressed with Bavarian designer, Levi Strauss’ canvas work pants, Davis wrote to Strauss expressing interest in a design partnership. Strauss had originally designed canvas pants as work gear for local miners panning for gold. Davis saw potential in the design, but thought a more durable fabric was necessary.

Made Famous By

© Trinetty Skytower/Flickr
© Trinetty Skytower/Flickr

With Davis’ help, Strauss moved from canvas to denim for its durability. What the design duo came up with is essentially Levi’s signature style, the 501 jeans.

The fashion world took notice of the blue jeans in 1935, when Vogue ran a story on dude ranch chic. By the 1940s, wartime fabric restrictions helped popularize denim across the United States. Denim was cheap, and practical for men and women in the workplace because it was easy to wash and didn’t require an ironing board.

Following up on the blue jeans’ original Reno cowboy grit, denim became famous on the bodies of teen idols James Dean, Marlon Brando, and Marilyn Monroe. Blue jeans remain a ultimate style statement. People want to wear them not just for their ease, but because they’re always evolving. That keeps them fresh, exciting and a necessary indulgence.