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It’s All in the Jeans

It’s All in the Jeans

Here ‘s an inspiring reading exercise for students at A2-B1 level.

Rock bands wear them. Your parents and grandparents wear them. You wear them. Some of them are hard-wearing. They are the most popular item of clothing in the universe. Why?

They’re comfortable, they’re stylish – they’re jeans.

The story of jeans goes back to 1849, when the American Gold Rush started. Thousands of people went to California to try their luck at digging gold and making their fortune. Among them was a young man called Levi Strauss, who went to California from Germany at the age of 18. He made a lot of money, in spite of the fact that he didn’t find any gold.

Levi Strauss realised that the gold miners were in need of very strong clothes which were easy to wash as well as comfortable to wear. As the saying goes ”Need is the mother of invention”. In the early 1850’s, Strauss bought some thick cotton denim from a mill in New Hampshire, USA. The name denim, used to describe the cotton, came from serge de Nimes, named after the town of Nimes in the south of France. Levi Strauss decided to make trousers from this material.

Levi Strauss’s trousers were later named jeans, quite likely after sailors from Genoa in Italy, who wore them. Jeans became so popular in a short period of time, that they were soon sold right across the USA. In 1873, stitching, shaped like the wings of the Rocky Mountain Eagle, was added. The breakthrough point in the history of jeans was in the 1950’s , when the fashion for jeans arrived in Europe. People in Europe started to wear jeans in their free time, not only for work, after seeing a magazine advertisement in the USA.

In the 1980’s a shocking jeans advertisement appeared on British TV. In it, a young man walked into a laundrette, took off his jeans and put them to in a washing machine. Everyone in the laundrette was shocked. As a result of the advert, the sales of that particular make of jeans increased by 800 per cent.

Now, time for some questions 🙂 !

  1. Where did the Gold Rush take place?
  2. What kind of trousers did gold miners need?
  3. Where was the material for Levi Strauss’s trousers bought?
  4. What’s the origin of the word denim?
  5. Why were the people in the laundrette in the jeans advertisement shocked?
  6. Was the advertisement a success or a disaster?

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