How jeans were born? There are two theories, the first, that says that the fabric comes from Liguria, more precisely from Genova, where, in the 14th Century, a type of blue corduroy was used to cover the goods in the port. The words blue jeanswould come from the French bleu de Gênes, that means Genoa blue. The other hypothesis considers the city of Nimes, in France, where was produced an indigo fabric, then used to make Genoeses’ working trousers: de Nimes, from which Denim.

What is sure is that jeans were used, until the 19th Century included, as working clothes: the clothing of workmen, miners and gold prospectors was produced with this resistant and comfortable fabric.

Jeans have been the great protagonists of the 20th Century: in 1935 was launched the first female model and in 1937 the Denim trousers appeared for the first time on the Vogue cover. In the 50’s they depopulated among cinema and rock’n’roll, while in the 60’s they became the symbol garment of the student riots. From the 90’s, the need of news, in view of the wide spread of jeans, leaded towards a particular version of the fabric, the vintage one: through the stone wash – an industrial treatment that consists in washing the fabric filling the washing machine with pumice stone – and other treatment with chemical substances, was conferred to jeans a worn out and decoloured effect that became, and still is, very fashionable.

The problem of jeans production is the great environmental impact of its working processes: the supply chain starts with the cultivation of cotton, during which is employed a huge quantity of water and where, in countries like China and United States, are used highly toxic pesticides, now banned for years in Europe. Once woven, the cotton is sent to the industries that produce jeans and dyed: there will be the color preparation with pigments and powders and, successively, the high temperature dyeing in washing machine for the finishing. Depending on the company’s needs, the jeans are treated with stone wash or using aqueous solutions that contain salts that release chlorine or potassium permanganate, a substance that provokes the corrosion of the industrial equipments and is highly harmful to the workers who manipulate it.

The last step involves that the garments are washed with the add of softeners with acetic acid that, beyond being inflammable, is corrosive to eyes, skin and respiratory tract.

Many industries dispose of all toxic substances used in the various phases, by putting the polluted waters in rivers and seas, causing a very serious damage to the marine ecosystem and to human beings.

Recently the field of fashion, in constant evolution, has succeeded in obtaining a low environmental impact jeans. This, above all, thank’s to the decision of some companies to buy only raw materials produced in Europe without the employment of pesticides and to the use of vegetable dyes or particular foams that doesn’t need water. Also the subsequent processings, such as stone wash, are always more often, replaced by and innovative and ecological method that involves a washing with ozone that, for its antioxidant properties, discolor the fabric. For the color finishing, instead, is used the chitosan, that is a natural fixer obtained from residues of crustaceans, and the sanding, through which the fabric is rubbed against reels covered with abrasive paper, to obtain the velvety effect called “peach skin”.

Among the sustainable jeans manufacturers, there’s also the big brand Levi’s, ready to launch, by the summer of 2020 the new Wellthread collection, with jeans made of cottonized hemp, an innovative fiber obtained by a special treatment of the hemp that makes it very similar to cotton and workable with the same machines.