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The History of Denim

The denim jean. What started as a humble workers garment has evolved into many avenues of self expression and fashion styles. However, there still remains a deep appreciation for this hardwearing trouser. But where did it begin?

Did you know at any given time 50% of the world's population is wearing denim?


5-10 million years ago an African plant evolved to have light and strong fibres in order to help carry its seeds in the wind.

The cotton plant spread across the planet, and once it was discovered by humans, we transformed the fibres into cotton.

The oldest cotton fabric has been found in Huaca Prieta in Peru, dated to about 6000 BCE. It is here that the cotton plant is thought to have been domesticated at its earliest. 

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The French De Nîmes

In the late 17th century, weavers in Nimes, France, made the first modern denim, whilst trying to replicate the process of producing another popular heavy duty fabric called serge.

Textiles made during this time were often named based on where they were first manufactured. And so, the new fabric was named

Serge De Nîmes.

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The American Pioneers

In 1869 a tailor, Jacob Davis, opened a shop in Reno, Navada. He made tents, horse blankets and wagon covers that were usually bought by railway workers on the Central Pacific Railroad. 

He used a heavy duty cotton “denim” fabric (de-nîme) which he bought from Levi Strauss & co in San Francisco. 

In January 1871, Davis was asked by a customer to make a pair of strong working pants for her husband who was a woodcutter. To create suitably robust pants for working, he used Levi's cloth and reinforced the weak points in the seams and pockets with the copper rivets that he used on horse blankets.

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Davis wrote to Levi to suggest that the two men apply for a patent on his riveted trousers together. Levi, being an astute businessman, saw the potential for this new product, and agreed to Jacob’s proposal. And in 1873 the two men received patent #139,121 from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for "Improvement in Fastening Pocket-Openings." By adding metal rivets to work pants, which would be known as 'blue jeans', they created stronger pants for working men. 

Davis and Levi started producing denim jeans and overalls for traditional working men and they were a huge success.

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The Modern Pioneer

Inspired by hardwearing design, our founder Phil James established &SONS in 2016. Creating timeless garments for the modern man, designed by hand and made to stand the test of time, our denim is inspired by the past to create a style for the here and now

We’re proud to support innovation and the valuable skills of artisan makers, where hard-won expertise are passed on from one generation to the next.

That’s why we take such care over the design and manufacture of our clothing, using only the finest natural materials combined with the greatest craftsmanship. We honour the history of each garment and proudly support our modern pioneers.

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