A heavy, Z-twist, twill cotton for jeans, overalls, and other work and leisure garments

This is one of the many definitions of denim, the ubiquitous fabric in jeans. The name is attributed to the origin of the fabric sold by Levi Strauss. It came from France, the city of Nimes and was known as serge de Nimes, colloquially compressed to de nim.

Strauss was a dry goods wholesaler in San Francisco during the post-goldrush era. He sold to tailor Jacob Davis who designed and sold denim work pants. Davis soon discovered that his customers tended to jam a lot of stuff into the pockets, causing the stitches to separate. So, he added rivets at the high stress points. With Strauss as a partner, he secured Patent No. 139,121; “a pair of pantaloons having the pocket openings secured at each edge by means of rivets.”

The blue color came from indigo dye, a living organism, which must be fed and kept warm. Dead indigo will not dye. Today, we use synthetic dyes, although some small-batch purists still use the natural dye.

Of course, this limits the color choice to blue. With synthetic dyes, there is no limit to the choices available. We carry colors ranging from Wisteria to Pistachio. And, pattern makers provide a whole library of designs for denim. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a closet full of vests to match your every mood?

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