Saturday, June 04, 2022

The ancestor of jeans

Did you know that the word "denim" is a contraction of de Nîmes, meaning "from Nîmes," a southern French city that dates from ancient Roman times? According to Wikipedia, the city of Nîmes became a major producer and exporter of the woven wool and silk fabric in the mid sixteenth century. The fabric "from Nîmes" became known simply as "denim." It wouldn't be until the early nineteenth century that Americans (principally in North Carolina at the time) would use cotton to manufacture the denim cloth we now associate with blue jeans.

I'm sure I was wearing jeans when I took this picture. Digitized color slide, Nîmes, 1989.

This photo has nothing to do with jeans or denim, except that I took it in the city of Nîmes back in 1989. One of the houses on this small street is covered with scaffolding, probably undergoing a face lift. The parked 2cv makes it just so French.


  1. And the very prominant front step (opp. to the parked car) is also very French!

  2. I’d love to see what that street looks like now. I’d be sure to dress in denim.

  3. The origin of the jeans is the bleu de travail, article in French as well as this other one

  4. Interesting photo. There must be a lot of upkeep to such an old abode. Lewis worked in his home (Georgia) town's cotton mill one summer. It only made denim at that time.

  5. Makes me wonder what the street looks like today.

  6. Well, your prayers have been answered (I think). Lots of rain today in France, I read. I hope it passed over you, some of it anyway. Our turn tomorrow.

  7. I vaguely knew of the "de Nimes" origin but not that it was originally silk and wool, or so old. Thought somehow it was more 19th-century, but that must be the American version.
    Somewhere, there's a fascinating course waiting to be taught about which fabrics were developed when in various part of France.

  8. potty, :)

    mitch, they've done a lot of renovation since 1989. I saw a lot of it on Google maps street view. I wish I remembered where the photo was taken to see what it looks like now, but I don't.

    chm, :)

    evelyn, I picked up a cotton ball on the side of the road in NC once many years ago. Not enough to make a pair of jeans, though!

    judy, me too!

    elgee, some rain, but not a whole lot.

    emm, somewhere...


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