At Refinery we really, really dig denim. As with any proper crush, the love of denim develops over time and becomes more intense the more you learn about it. The tale of the indigo alchemy that is denim has been told many times, but here are the crib notes for those kids in the back who were trading comics under their desks while the lecture was underway.


A long, long time ago

The highlight reel of the world’s 200 year-long fascination with denim starts in Nîmes, France, where the Andre family develops a rugged cotton twill textile which they call serge de Nîmes, which is later shortened to Denim. The fabric is strong and durable and becomes the mainstay of hard-working labourers who need clothes that can take some punishment. Roll around the 1800s and the Gold Rush miners in America are in need of some strong clothes in which to unearth their fortunes. Levi Strauss steps up to the plate with denim trousers, throws in a few rivets to protect the garment's stress points and inadvertently creates a clothing staple that will change the course of fashion history.

Times they are a-changin'

Next Hollywood gets a hold of denim and slathers it on the much-revered backsides of every ornery 1930's silver screen cowboy. Cue fainting girls and lines around the block from every store that stocks blue jeans. The 40s brings the American war, which takes denim around the globe in armoured tanks; the 50s produces James Dean - denim turns rogue and succeeds in getting banned from certain college campuses.

The 60s speed by in a haze of psychedelic experiments and denim follows suit in a variety of embroidered and painted guises; then shimmies into the 70s to a disco beat, sweeping the floor in fabulous flares. The 80s brings high fashion and denim, now the darling of the houses of Gucci and Dior, also pops up on Main Street as skinnies and fitted jackets. During the 90s the blue jean goes underground in favour of khakis and cargo pants, only to make a rip-roaring comeback at the turn of the century when the fashion world completely loses its mind and even opens stores stocking nothing but denim.

And here we are, 16 years later and the ever evolving blue jean is still as iconic a wardrobe staple as it was a century ago.

Takin’ care of business

Now that you know that your humble denim has such a fascinating history, it only makes sense to take proper care of it. Here are a few ways to ensure the longevity of your blue jeans:

  1. Wash it as little as possible. Dirt, ozone and a little body oil adds to its character.
  2. When you do wash it, turn it inside out and put the washing machine on the cold cycle to preserve its colour.
  3. Even better - wash it by hand. Fill a sink with cold water, add a drop of detergent and soak your jeans for a bit - no scrubbing necessary. Simply hang up to dry.
  4. Air dry indoors out of direct sunlight. Too stiff? Stick it in the dryer (on the lowest possible heat) for a few minutes to soften it up.
  5. Steer clear of bleach - it messes with the colour and deteriorates the yarn.

Visit your closest Refinery branch today for a look at our wide variety of expertly designed denim jeans and decide which one best defines you.