Menswear Academy

Denim details: jeans by Boggi Milano

Boggi Milano Denim

Jeans are a perfect expression of the smart casual theme, one of the distinctive characteristics of Boggi Milano’s Spring/Summer 2019 collection. They are a classic casual garment, yet when paired with a blazer, they become part of a look that is acceptable in most office environments. Comfortable and hard-wearing, they improve as they age and become much-loved items in any man’s wardrobe. Boggi Milano’s jeans stand out for their quality, which is determined in part by the textile from which they are made, and in part by the details. The button with the Boggi B; the labels inside the jeans that underline the brand’s link to Milan and Italy; and the textile finishing, with areas subjected to abrasion and whiskering, creating the appearance of aged denim: all these features provide an indication of Boggi Milano’s constant commitment to quality.

Boggi Milano denim detail button

A tale of three cities: Genoa, Nîmes, Reno

Ironically, denim, which more than any other fabric expresses the energy of youth, is in fact one of the oldest fabrics in the world. Denim and jeans were originally two different types of cloth, and their names are derived from two cities. The first is Genoa, where a cheap, robust wool-cotton blend fustian textile was being woven in the mid-1500s. Its name ‘jean’ is derived from the French name for the city, Gênes, which was anglicized to Jeane in England where the product became very popular for its toughness and low price. Jean fabric was used by the Genoese navy for its sailors’ garments, for its durability and ability to stand up to repeated washings. It was dyed blue using indigo, a plant-derived substance from India that had been used by ancient civilizations and then by European countries from the mid-15th century. Jean cloth was used by working-class people in northern Italy for centuries, and a 17th-century painter who specialized in portraits of ordinary people included this blue fabric in his work: his name is not known and he is referred to as simply The Master of the Blue Jeans. By the 18th century, jean cloth was made entirely from cotton.

Painting by the Maestro della Tela Jeans

A painting by the Master of Blue Jean, 18th century

Jeans and Nîmes

The second city is Nîmes in France, where weavers created their own version of jean fabric that was in fact technically different. While jean has warp and weft of the same blue colour, the twill textile made in Nîmes had white warp threads and blue weft. It was made from the late 1500s, and it appeared in England soon after, acquiring the name ‘Serge de Nimes’. This was subsequently abbreviated to ‘de nim’ and the term was used for English-made products based on the same type of textile. In the 18th century, denim and jean cloth production began in the United States, with jean used for overcoats, jackets, waistcoats and trousers, and denim used for the overalls worn by mechanics, house-painters and other labourers.

Boggi Milano denim detail of textile with whiskering

Invention of rivet-reinforced trousers

Today the word ‘jeans’ is universally applied to the familiar five-pocket trousers made from denim fabric with rivet-reinforced pockets. The forerunner of this garment was invented by a tailor named Jacob Davis, born in Latvia as Jacob Youphes. He emigrated to America and worked as a tailor in various locations, eventually settling in Reno, Nevada, where he made items such as wagon covers and tents, using copper rivets to reinforce the stitching. In December 1870, one of his female customers asked him to make a pair of strong trousers for her husband, a woodcutter, and he applied the same technique of rivet-reinforced seams and pockets to the garment, made from heavy plain cotton duck cloth. These trousers caught on with local workmen and they became very successful. Davis began making them in denim fabric, softer than duck, purchasing it from another emigrant, Loeb Strauss. Strauss was born in Bavaria, Germany, and arrived in San Francisco in 1853, changing his forename to Levi. Davis and Strauss applied for a patent for the rivet-reinforced jeans in 1872, and they set up a manufacturing plant in San Francisco. In 1873, Davis introduced another detail: double orange thread stitching on the back pocket.

From utilitarian to trendy

Jeans remained purely working garments up until the 1950s. James Dean wore them in the 1955 film Rebel Without a Cause, and this brought them to popularity amongst young people. By the 1970s they had become a favourite for casual wear in the United States, and effects such as ageing, distressing and stone-washing were introduced from the 1980s.

Boggi Milano denim jeans

Boggi Milano’s versions of this classic garment have all the brand’s hallmarks: meticulous attention to design, a range of fits, colours and washes, and the selection of the finest materials, stretch denim fabrics in which a small proportion of elastan gives the material extra flexibility. Whichever model you choose, you will delight in discovering the details, the touches that add character and connect the garment to its distant origins.

Boggi Milano Denim