Diesel is a very famous Italian denim brand, probably one of the most popular across Europe, being spotted on guys left right and Centre. I thought it would be good to include a history on the brand and tell you how it got started, as well as how it’s become one of the most successful jeans brands on the market today!
Renzo Rosso (the founder of Diesel) began to show an interest in fashion as a teenager when a friend managed to get several meters of American denim. He borrowed his mother’s sewing machine and produced his first item of clothing, a skintight pair of bell-bottoms with a 17-inch flare. There was only one problem though! He had neglected to sew a strip of fabric behind the zipper, so every time he zipped them up, he went into a cold sweat, dreading the possibility of a painful accident. Perhaps he wasn’t great at making the jeans, but he definitely had the visual ideas of being able to sell them and design them.
In 1978, Renzo Rosso put his love for fashion into practice and started working for a clothing manufacturer called Molex, which was owned by Adriano Goldschmied. You may recognize the name as he is known as the Godfather of denim, being behind AG Jeans, Citizens of Humanity
and Goldsign. After working for Adriano for a while, Renzo used a loan from his father to buy a 40% holding in the company, which he then changed the name to Diesel.
The jeans that were being made were then marketed under the Diesel brand. A little while later, Renzo bought out Adriano Goldschmied’s interest in the Diesel brand name in 1985 for $500,000. That’s an expensive share!
It was then (now that he had full control You may recognize the name as he is known as the Godfather of denim, being behind AG Jeans, Citizens of Humanity and Goldsign. After working for Adriano for a while, Renzo used a loan from his father to buy a 40% holding in the company, which he then changed the name to Diesel.
The jeans that were being made were then marketed under the Diesel brand. A little while later, Renzo bought out Adriano Goldschmied’s interest in the Diesel brand name in 1985 for $500,000. That’s an
expensive share! It was then (now that he had full control of the company) that he came up with the
idea of making jeans that looked used. Something that was newer and not really thought of, it was a big risk, but definitely one that paid of. Distressing began to take place, creating some very inventive washes and as a result, a new breed of jeans was born. One thing that I think makes Diesel iconic, other than its famous coin pocket strip and unique washes, is the fact that Renzo is very well cultured. He learned his marketing skills in the United States, while his creativity is in his Italian blood and nature, then he learned systems from Germany, making a great mix of knowledge which led to the company turning over €1.3 billion in 2009. Yep, that’s billion, not million! Renzo is now worth an estimated $3 billion in total.
Renzo made a name for himself in the denim market, creating iconic jeans names and fits like Viker, Doozy, Liv, Matic, Lowky, Thanaz, Zathan and more. The jeans are most popular among men and the younger market, however Diesel recently branched out into making their women’s line more sleek and mature, while the men’s line remains the same and branded, which definitely works for them. He also branched out into ready to wear and accessories, creating a whole fashion house, including lines like Diesel Black Gold, 55 DSL and DDG. There was a time about 6 years ago when Diesel hit its peak with the online community. There were jeans that were considered rare or amazing, meaning that members were willing to pay over the retail value in order to get them. The amazing washes that became iconic (like 772, 71J, 81M, 61X and more) were to blame for that! Everyone had to have a piece of them in the right cut, often sizing down to get the ultimate fit for when they stretched out a little bit. Diesel definitely ruled the roost for premium denim during the 2000-2010 period.
Renzo is now 57 and is president of OTB (standing for Only The Brave) which is the holding group that controls Diesel, Viktor & Rolf, Mayson Martin Mariela and Marin, running the company from his headquarters in the countryside, north of Venice in Italy. He’s come a long way after being born on a farm in Burgin! Renzo most recently hired Nicola Formichetti who was previously Lady Gaga’s stylist.
The history of J Brand Jeans
J Brand is one of the most popular premium Denim brands on the market today, but where did the brand originate from and who is the mastermind behind it?
Jeff Rudes, the founder and CEO of the company, created J Brand in 2004 with a vision to create a jean that fits women so perfectly and would follow the contours of the body. Setting out with creating timeless, classic and sophisticated jeans with an emphasis on fit, Jeff launched the brand as an exclusive line at Ron Herman’s Melrose jean bar in Los Angeles, California in Spring 2005, with his aim of making women look and feel beautiful in their jeans. With the introduction of the classic dark- washed skinny jean, J Brand was the first company to impact the global market and drive this trend forward. You may remember their beautiful Inky washes in their perfect skinny fit! So many celebs were then getting spotted out in J Brand skinny jeans, boosting the brands popularity even more.
The brand then started to take the denim world by storm when they released their famous styles each season. Two that spring to mind to begin with were their popular Zombie and Thrasherskinny jeans
which sold out instantly and were seen on almost every Los Angeles based celebrity there is! These launched J Brand even further into the lime light and then a couple of seasons after, they came out with their widely known Houlihan skinny cargo pant. If you didn’t know who J Brand was at this time, you certainly did after the release of the Houlihan, as it was seen on everyone and kicked off a skinny cargo pant trend that overtook the denim world in Spring 2010.
J Brand has always been one of the leaders in the premium denim industry and continues to do so to date! They even launched a men’s line in Autumn 2008, embodying modern classics with a masculine sensibility and then most recently, bringing out a Ready-to-Wear collection in Spring 2014, designed with luxurious contrasting fabrics while continuing the simplistic attention to detail and sensibility of the brand.
J Brand’s ultimate goal is remaining authentic and true to the customer while delivering inventive designs, this is what makes them an industry leader in the fashion world. The breadth of the brand
also includes past collaborations with such designers as: Proenza Schouler, and a five -season partnership with Christopher Kane. It’s now stocked in luxury retailers in more than 20 countries worldwide as well as online.
The history of Wrangler Jeans
Wrangler is another iconic denim brand that owns its place in the denim market, just like Levi’s. Having been officially named and founded in 1943, the brand has a huge history behind it and a following that
many adore and love today. I thought it would be appropriate to do a history of Wrangler in my denim brand history series! Check it out below! In 1887, a 20 year old man named C.C Hudson who had grown up on Spring Hill Farm in Williamson County, Tennessee, decided to leave his home and seek out fortune in the emerging textile town of Greensboro, North Carolina. He found work in an overall factory, sewing on buttons for around 25 cents a day. It was here that he worked for many years until 1904 when the workplace closed. Hudson, his brother Homer, and a few others from the factory
decided to buy several of the sewing machines. It was then that they formed the Hudson Overall Company, operating it from a loft above Coe Brothers Grocery on South Elm Street in Greensboro. This continued for many years and by 1919, the sales of the Hudson overalls were booming and the company had to move to larger headquarters, which was then they decided to change the name to the Blue Bell Overall Company. In 1926, Big Ben Manufacturing of Kentucky purchased Blue Bell for a
whopping $585,000. Even though the companies merged together, they still kept the Blue Bell name as it was incredibly popular. The production still took place in their headquarters in Greensboro too. A decade later in 1936, as Hudson’s brand kept on growing, they introduced Super Big Ben Overalls, featuring 100% Sulfurized fabric that reduced shrinkage to less than 1%, setting a new standard for the industry. This really took over and it meant that Blue Bell was a leader in the overall industry.
Unfortunately a year later in 1937, C.C Hudson passed away. Not long after this, in 1943, Blue Bell acquired the Casey Jones Company, which was a manufacturer of work-clothing, and, with it, the rights to Casey Jones’ rarely used brand name – Wrangler.
The history of Levi’s Jeans
Levi’s is a denim brand that is about as popular as water in the Western world. Everyone knows the name and it’s one of the first brands that everyone looks to when they think about jeans. Why is that? Well, Levi’s were the very first brand to invent jeans. They are responsible for the 5 pocket blues that we all know and love! Since they are such an iconic brand, I thought they definitely deserved the very first post here at The Jeans Blog, so I’m giving you a history lesson on their brand, Levi Strauss & Co.
In 1853, Bavarian-born Levi Strauss moved to Gold Rush era in San Francisco to open a dry goods business. From there, he sold clothes, boots and other goods to the small retail stores of the American West. While Levi was happy doing this, in 1872, Jacob Davis, a tailor from Reno, Nevada, teamed up with Levi Strauss to create and patent work wear riveted-for-strength made of brown cotton duck and true blue denim. After working on this for a year, in 1873 the the blue jean was born! Both Jacob and Levi had created the first blue jean, called “XX” to which the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted the patent #139, 121 to Levi Strauss & Co. and Jacob Davis for their invention. You may recognize the Two Horse logo on the back patch of Levi’s jeans and it demonstrates the incredible strength of the brands clothing. The logo was first branded onto the leather patch of the “XX” jeans in 1886 and is still used today. In 1890, the original “XX” blue jean was then given its iconic lot number 501®.
This is still one of their most famous jeans to date! Branching out the line, in 1895, Levi Strauss & Co. introduced its first bicycle pant, but a few years later in 1902, unfortunately Levi Strauss passed away in the September and his four nephews took over the family business, carrying out his numerous bequests to Bay Area charities, serving children and the poor. I think this was such a lovely thing to do. A few years later in 1906, disaster struck the company again when The San Francisco earthquake
and fire destroyed the headquarters and two factories of Levi Strauss & Co. Being a great company though, the employee salaries continued, and temporary headquarters were opened to keep employees working. Soon after, a new factory was built at 250 Valencia Street.
Numerous bequests to Bay Area charities, serving children and the poor. I think this was such a lovely thing to do. A few years later in 1906, disaster struck the company again when The San Francisco earthquake and fire destroyed the headquarters and two factories of Levi Strauss & Co. Being a great company though, the employee salaries continued, and temporary headquarters were opened to keep employees working. Soon after, a new factory was built at 250 Valencia Street.
In 1908, The Two Horse trademark was registered in Japan and Levi’s global reach began in earnest with markets like Australia and South Africa soon to follow. Going global was a huge deal for the brand and helped launch them into being the most iconic jeans brand there is. A year after in 1909, Levi’s branched out again with the introduction of fine khaki pants and coats to LS & Co.’s line of clothing. A few years later in 1912, they also came out with Coveralls for children which were a one-piece denim
playsuit. This was incredibly helpful as Denim was so strong and sturdy, it meant the overalls would last longer.
Wanted an authentic cowboy experience headed out to the ranches out West, where they could purchase their first pair of Levi’s In 1918, Freedom-Alls made their appearance. This tunic/trouser outfit was designed to give women freedom of movement and release them from the restrictive clothing of the era. There isn’t too much online about these overalls, but I can imagine they were welcomed with open arms by the ladies! A decade later in 1928, it was official. Levi’s registered their brand name ‘Levi’s’ as a trademark. Cementing their success in stone.
Now, after this initial history of the brand, how did jeans develop on from work-wear into the fashion statement that they are today? The cowboys may just have something to do with that! In the 1930’s,
authentic cowboys were wearing Levi’s jeans which elevated the brand to a certain status. The Western clothing became synonymous with a life of freedom and independence. This way of life spread across America and Easterners who jeans and take them home to wow their friends – and help spread the Western influence to the rest of the country.
Now comes the fun part! How did jeans become a woman’s staple? In 1934, the first jeans for women were made. Called the Lady Levi’s, they were made of pre- shrunk denim and constructed with many
of the same features of the men’s 501 jeans, however they owed their feminine allure to a fashionably high, nipped in waist. I’m sure this territory is starting to sound familiar now isn’t it? A couple of years after the Lady Levi’s, in 1936 the Red Tab was first placed onto the right back pocket of the jeans and the word LEVI’S® was stitched in white in all capital letters on one side only. The Red Tab was created to differentiate Levi’s jeans from competitors.
Now, in 1941 when the war was happening, changes had to be made to Levi’s products in order to conform to rules set by the War Production Board for the conservation of raw materials. The famous
Arcuate back pocket stitching was then painted instead of stitched to save thread. The back waistband cinch was completely removed and then to conserve metal, so were the watch pocket (this is now known as the coin pocket) rivets. This time period also represented one of global expansion for the brand, showcasing the American icon on GIs overseas. You may not realize this, but in the 1950’s, denim was banned in some schools, especially in the East, for being a bad influence. The portrayal of denim-clad “juvenile delinquents” in movies and on TV led many school administrators to prohibit denim in the classroom, fearing that wearing the rebel uniform would make students go against authority. Living in today’s world, I find that so hard to believe that a pair of jeans could cause such
Then, in 1954, the Levi’s Denim Family line was launched, thanks to denim’s new appeal as a leisure fabric. This meant that what was once only work-wear was now branching out into the world of casual attire. In 1960, Levi Strauss & Co. opened its first factory in the South. Located in Blackstone, Virginia, the company insisted that the facility was integrated at a time when desegregation had not yet been mandated by federal law. You can really start to see now just how much of an impact Levi’s was
having on America! The new, slimmer silhouettes of the 1960’s inspired Slim Fits, this was a 5-pocket twill trouser for young men. Teenagers called them White Levi’s because no one knew what to call blue jeans that aren’t blue. I found this funny when I found out about it, trying to think back to a time where Levi’s was the only fashionable jeans brand there was! Not long after that though, the brand
developed a new idea, pre-shrunk Levi’s. This meant that Levi’s would do the shrinking for you! You may not know what I am on about here, but back then, everyone had to soak their jeans in hot water in order to get them to shrink down to fit. You can still purchase jeans like this today, but 95% of them are pre-shrunk now for ease. In 1964, Levi Strauss & Co. patented the Sta-Prest® process for creating permanent creases in fine trousers and shirts. The Sta-Prest® pants collection was re-introduced in the Levi’s Spring 2012 Collection actually, so you can still get a piece of it without going vintage!
As Levi’s were now a global, extremely respected jeans brand, they decided to have some fun and announced the Levi’s Denim Art Contest, inviting consumers to submit photos of their decorated jeans and are located at the headquarters in San Francisco. All of the old and very first jeans are kept in secure storage and treasured. I did have the chance to look at their Archive collection, but unfortunately I couldn’t make it.
As denim sort of cooled down in the 90’s as a trend after blowing up in the 80’s, Levi’s decided to keep the brand alive by launching Levi’s® Vintage Clothing in 1996, a line that faithfully reproduces the fits, fabrics and characteristics of historic Levi’s garments. This was a way of getting a real
vintage pair of jeans in the current market. Then in 1999, something exciting happened for the brand, Time magazine named the 501® jean the Fashion Item of the Century, then in the same year, the
501® jean was reverse engineered and Engineered Jeans were launched worldwide.
Levi’s is still one of the most successful Denim brands there is and they are going strong every year. A few years ago in 2010 they launched their brand new Curve ID collection which produces 3 different fits for women, Slight Curve, Demi Curve and Bold jackets for a special judging. The winners then took a tour of American folk art museums during 1975.
Moving onto the 1980’s now, Levi Strauss & Co. made clothing for the athletes at the Olympic Games in 1980 and 1984. Shortly after this, the famous 501® Blues television advertising campaign was launched at the Los Angeles Olympic Games. Some of you may remember this actually. As the 80’s
saw a load of trends and styles, the brand introduced the Dockers® brand, filling a niche for the baby boomer man who needed something to fill that wardrobe gap between his 501® jeans and his business
suit. This basically gives the history of Levi’s and how they came about and developed into what they are today, but they do always keep their heritage and give a nod back quite often. For example, in 1989, the company’s 150+ year history was captured in the Levi Strauss & Co. Archives, these are located at the headquarters in San Francisco. All of the old and very first jeans are kept in secure storage and treasured. I did have the chance to look at their Archive collection, but unfortunately I couldn’t make it. As denim sort of cooled down in the 90’s as a trend after blowing up in the 80’s, Levi’s decided to keep the brand alive by launching Levi’s® Vintage Clothing in 1996, a line that faithfully reproduces the fits, fabrics and characteristics of historic Levi’s garments. This was a way of getting a real vintage pair of jeans in the current market. Then in 1999, something exciting happened for the brand, Time magazine named the 501® jean the Fashion Item of the Century, then in the same year, the 501® jean was reverse engineered and Engineered Jeans were launched worldwide.
Levi’s is still one of the most successful Denim brands there is and they are going strong every year. A few years ago in 2010 they launched their brand new Curve ID collection which produces 3 different fits for women, Slight Curve, Demi Curve and Bold Curve. This invention has been a big hit as it means that women of all different shapes can wear Levi’s. Some have trouble with gaping at the back, while others have jeans that are baggy in the thighs. This issue has been cured since each of these fits are cut differently, to accommodate the different body shapes. No more having to go up or down a size and sacrifice fit! Curve ID was created as a result of studying more than 60,000 body scans and listening to women around the world of all shapes and sizes.
In 2011, the company started to get more wise and ethical about their production, inventing Levi’s® Water<Less™. The average pair of jeans uses 42 liters of water in the finishing process, so the Levi’s®
Water<Less™ Collection reduces the water consumption by up to 96%. It’s the intersection of style and sustainability. Even celebrities like will I am are behind this and have created a collaboration collection with Levi’s.
So, that just about sums up the history and essence of Levi’s and I think it also gives a real insight as to what denim was like over the past century and a half and how it has truly developed into what it is
today. A multi billion dollar industry which leads the fashion world.
Everyone in the Western world owns a pair of jeans, if not multiple pairs, and it’s guaranteed to be a wardrobe staple for 99% of people. So many girls love and wear vintage Levi’s too, cutting them up
into shorts for that high wasted trend, it just simply means that Levi’s will always be in fashion now matter how the times change. How many of you love Levi’s? You can shop their current collection online at Levi.com.