Denim, in American usage since
the late 18th century, denotes a rugged
in which the
under two (twi- "double")
producing the familiar diagonal ribbing
identifiable on the reverse of the fabric,
which distinguishes denim from cotton duck.
Denim was traditionally colored blue with
to make blue "jeans,"
though "jean" denoted a different,
lighter cotton textile. In 1789 George Washington
toured a Massachusetts factory producing
machine-woven cotton denim. In the mid-19th
century the durability of
of Cannabis sativa fibers, processed
as in making
temporarily competed with cotton.
traditional American cotton textile is the
diagonal warp-striped hickory cloth that
was once associated with railroadmen's overalls,
in which blue or black contrasting with
undyed white threads form the woven pattern.
Hickory cloth was as rugged as hickory timber
and was worn by "hicks." Records
of a group of New Yorkers headed for the
California gold fields in 1849 show that
they took along four "Hickory shirts"
apiece. Hickory cloth later furnished some "fatigue"
pantaloons and shirts in the American Civil
A popular etymology of the word denim
is a contraction of serge de N
mes in France. Serge weave, with a
distinctly-twilled diagonal rib, is now
more usually associated with sturdy woollen
Denim and modern fashion
consistently been fashionable
in American culture,
but have changed style
In the 1980s,
jeans were very
In the 1990s,
very baggy jeans
were in fashion,
as part of the grunge
Denim jackets (or
have wafted in and out
of fashion since the
1950s. Many pop-culture
icons are closely associated
with the denim jacket,
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