I love jeans. I remember taking the bus down to downtown Helsinki with one of my best friends – a.k.a. The Coolest Guy in the Class – to go to that Mic Mac store to get our first Levi’s 501s.
Only, they didn’t have them in my size, so I had to buy another kind. No idea what the type was, but I do know that the label on the butt was not red, but orange. And if you had asked me in school the day after, it was a flaming orange label that could be seen blocks away.
It was supposed to be red.
I’ve worn jeans ever since. I wore jeans to the school, to my parents’ parties, to my grandparents’ birthday parties, to hockey practice, to my confirmation (although, they were white and feels like an entry of its own), all through high school to the university, through different hockey teams, to job interviews, to Sweden, to meetings, brainstorming sessions, to bars, back to Finland, to the maternity hospital, to pushing a baby stroller, to the kindergarten, to the skating rink, to hockey rinks, to press conferences, to the kitchen in this apartment where I write this, wearing jeans.
I’ve had all kinds of jeans. I’ve had Levi’s, MicMacs, Wranglers, Lees, and right now, Lucky Brand Jeans that I bought at the Burlington Mall in Massachusetts in December. I’ve also had dozens and dozens of no-name jeans or brands that not many people know. The coolest brand when I was a kid and my grandmother had a clothes store of her own, was called James. I can still say that “Ok, I’ll just wear the jameses”.
My all-time favorite pair is currently stored away in a box in my home office, for the apparent reason that I can’t – for the moment – fit in them. But as Marty McFly says in the beginning of Back to the Future, looking at a fine black pickup truck: “Someday, Jennifer, someday”. They’re pale blue Levi’s that my grandmother basically re-made with a big, red, “R” patch over the right knee, and another arrow-shaped red patch on the right thigh, and thousands of supporting stiches all over them.
Jeans have come a long way, and basically, everybody wears jeans everywhere, at least in Sweden. Last night, we were at a school information event, and the principal took the stage wearing dark blue jeans, and a sports jacket. Didn’t seem weird, or unserious. (His fake smile, though, is another story).
Everybody in the audience – including myself and my wife – was wearing jeans.
No item of clothing is more American than the blue jeans invented in 1873 by Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss. These two visionary immigrants, turned denim, thread and a little metal into the most popular clothing product in the world. Waist overalls, was the traditional name for work pants, which is what these first jeans were called. The word jeans became more popular around 1960 when the baby-boom generation adopted the term for its favorite type of pants, blue jeans.
I guess jeans have just made a round trip to being the working man’s – and woman’s – pants.