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Into Blue

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As long as I can remember, I've lived in jeans--I probably wore them every day when I was growing up. We just launched our own denim collection with different silhouettes, washes and prints...something for every woman. For most people, jeans are a wardrobe must-have and an all-American classic.

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Interestingly, denim and jeans didn't get their start in the U.S, not even their etymology. Various theories abound. One is that the fabric originated in Nimes, France, prompting the term de Nimes. Another refers to the bleu de Genes, or the blue of Genoa, where a similar sturdy fabric was in use since the 16th Century.

Whatever its genesis, it was Americans Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis who are responsible for the durable trousers that would ultimately define the modern version. In California in 1873, they got the U.S. patent for blue jeans they were selling to gold rush miners. While those first jeans were sold for around $1.25, one of the oldest known and authenticated pairs of Levi's from the 1880s was sold in a special eBay auction for $46,532 in 2001.

By the early 1900s, jeans were evolving from humble, practical work wear to cultural icon of the Every Man. Or Every Woman, in the case of World War II's Rosie the Riveter with her denim shirt and dungarees. Movies like Rebel Without a Cause and The Wild One helped jeans become a symbol of teenaged rebellion and ultimately a symbol of youth all around the world.

Yet even as Brando-loving teens and Bobby Soxers made jeans their own, so did everyone else. Royalty--English and Hollywood alike--embraced denim. In 1954, Princess Alexandra of Kent donned a pair of rolled-up dark blues to play tennis with the family, while Kate Hepburn commissioned Savile Row tailor Huntsman to craft denim trousers for her in 1971.

I especially love the way people wore denim in the 60s and 70s--the different colors, silhouettes and treatments took it to a new level of fashion. They were a mix of comfortable practicality and high style. Even the great Yves Saint Laurent once mused, "I wish I had invented blue jeans. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity--all I hope for in my clothes." I second that emotion. Jeans are an incredible invention and a fashion perennial.