The Origin of the word "Blue Jeans" and the history of Denim.

The history of jeans started in Genoa, Italy, more than 400 years ago. At that time, the harbour workers in Genoa used a robust fabric called “Geanes fustian”, made of Arab cotton, for working clothes and sailcloth. The material was dyed blue with indigo, very strong and thus well suited for work pants for these hardworking dockers and sailors.

This fabric was exported to other countries, and eventually known as the Blue from Genoa, or in French "Bleu de Gênes" since Genoa at that time belonged to France. The English adaptation of the expression then became “Blue Jeans”.

Denim became the work wear fabric of choice in many hard labor industries throughout the early 1900 century. 


Jeans became fashion in the 1950s:

Young people started wearing denim in the 1950s a mean of rebellion. This fashion was also inspired by Hollywood with by Marlon Brando with his 1953 film “The Wild One” as well James Dean’s movie “Rebel Without a Cause” from 1955. Some public places like schools and theaters banned jeans because of what they symbolized. Denim crossed from counterculture to fashion in the 1960s and 1970s when manufacturers started to make different styles of jeans.

How denim is made:

Denim is a type of cotton twill textile, in which the weft passes under two or more warp threads. Warp threads of denim fabric are dyed in indigo while weft threads remain plain white. That is why denim is blue on the one side and white-ish on the other. When used for jeans, denim is turned blue on the outside and because of the way it is made it.


Original denim was dyed with dye from plant Indigofera tinctoria. Modern denim is dyed with synthetic indigo. Denim is often dyed with indigo and dried many times over to get a stronger color that will not fade quickly. After the denim is made into clothing it as most often washed to make it softer and to reduce or eliminate shrinkage. 

What is Selvedge Denim?

The word ‘selvedge’ relates to the ‘self-edge’ of fabric. Selvedge is woven so the fabric’s ‘edge’ can be used in garment construction. In regards to jean construction, using the outer edge of the denim (the self-edge), makes a jean a ‘selvedge’ denim jean.
See a best selling selvedge jean.

Origins of Selvedge Denim

Selvedge denim is woven using old-fashioned denim-weaving techniques; most authentically woven on old looms. See finished selvedge jeans. Selvedge looms were popular in denim weaving until the mid-to-late 1900’s. US denim mills began modernizing their machinery to speed production as demand for denim grew world-wide. For these mills, that were focused more and more on increasing output, the use of old selvedge looms became unwanted, making the looms obsolete due to their slower and less consistent production. Now most of the old Selvedge denim production machinery has been bought up by denim enthusiasts in Japan and Italy where Selvedge denim is still produced today.



Blue de Genes:

Blue de Gênes is a denim label taking its inspiration from the origin of jeans 400 years ago in Italy. Blue de Genes was founded in 2012 in Denmark, by denim enthusiast Ole Madsen, who has been working with denim for more than 30 years. The story behind the blue jeans and Blue de Gênes is the starting point of this collection, a clothing line with an authentic look and high quality materials, featuring hand knitted sweaters, and Japanese selvage fabrics. Blue de Genes pays tribute to the long Italian history of quality craftsmanship in garment manufacturing , and just as Blue de Gênes is a family run business, the Italian suppliers are small family run factories.

Each Blue de Genes fit is named after famous old Italian explores, architects or designers who each have a unique vision or approach to their industry. Many of the details in the Blue de Genes jeans are crafted using very old production techniques dating back over hundreds of years. Ole Madsen says:

Blue de Gênes is a denim brand with an authentic look, a strong identity and a design that will last for several years. We are always looking for the right balance between fashion and heritage. To do our designs justice, we source qu­ality materials from around the world, add a sense of craftsmanship and use traditional techniques of making clothes. We do so to honor the story behind blue jeans”.

The Repi fit for example is named after the famous Italian architect Renzo Piano, born in Genoa in 1937. His big break through was when he was awarded the commission for the most prestigious project in Paris, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the new French national museum of 20th century art.

Renzo Piano once said about being an architect and creating:

                “Being and architect is the best thing in the world, because on this small planet, where everything is already discovered, designing is one of the few great adventures left”.


To ensure quality in each and every pair of Blue de Genes jeans, they are measured to perfection by hand, and signed in hand by the responsible manufacturer. This ensures the fit of every pair of Blue de Genes is always perfect.

Blue de Genes pays tribute to the history of denim making and the old proud Italian tradition of craftsmanship by featuring a number of old traditional production techniques, like the 3 needle inner leg sewing and leather patch repair details. The buttons and rivets are carefully selected and treated to represent the more than 400 year old denim heritage.

Blue de Genes jeans buttons are galvanized cobber to give them an ancient and warn look. The most unique Blue de Genes buttons are made of the corozo nut, that is use for the shirts, the Buffalo Horn buttons are used for blazers and the metal waistband buttons are used for pants.

The Oldest jeans in the world:

Giuseppe Garibaldi was an Italian general, politician and freedom figh­ter, who fought in many military campaigns that led to the Italian uni­fication. It is a historical fact that Garibaldi, and many of his partici­pants, wore jeans and a red shirt during the landing at Marsala in Italy in 1860.

His jeans had a patch, made of the same fabric - hiding a rip on the left knee. A rip that is told to be the result of a failed attempt on his life. Today, these jeans are preserved in Rome at the Central Museum of the Risorgimento, dating back more than 150 years as the oldest pair of jeans in the world.



In Akenz we have selected a couple of jeans that we believe are the sharpest jeans for the SS18 season are:

The Blue de Genes Vinci 39 distressed selvedge.

Or the Blue de Genes Repi N01 Patch.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, you are more than welcome to write your questions below, and we will get back to you with an answers ASAP. 


Leave a comment