Origin of Denim: Serge De Nîmes Et Bleu De Gênes, Part ITales of Denim
16. February 2014
A pair of jeans has a far more European background than one may think.
The word “denim” originates from serge de Nîmes, a name of sturdy fabric first made in the city of Nîmes (de Nîmes = from Nîmes) France, by the family of André. “Serge” as denim fabric dates back to the Middle Ages and as a name was used for woollen, half-woollen and silk twill fabrics. So the full French name for denim could be translated as “twill fabric from Nîmes”.
On the other hand, the word “jeans” is believed to originate from Genoa, Italy where the sailors and harbour workers used a sturdy fabric called Geanes fustian for working clothes and sailcloth. Exported to many countries throughout Europe, the indigo-dyed material was very durable and became known as the Blue from Genova, or Bleu de Gênes - since Genova at that time belonged to France. The English adapted it as “Blue Jeans” and the name was applied to trousers as well.
Drawing: George Thomas