The original Jeans were by Levi Strauss and were exclusively designed for men.
It wasn't until the advent of war, and the call for women to take on the roles of men at the front that jeans (or even trousers) were considered appropriate wear for women. The right and appropriateness of women to 'wear the trousers' took several steps back and forward throughout the 20th Century.
Even though jeans were invented as a garment in the mid 1800s, it took decades for clothing labels to even acknowledge that women had two legs and deserved the freedom to use them. As recently as the 1870s and 1880s, women were still confined to the restrictive 'Bustle' silhouette. However, rebellious women wore jeans to ride horses and work on farms long before society considered it appropriate.
Women had to choose from the mens selection until 1934, when 'Lady Levis' were first introduced. Back in 1871, Marie Susie, a wine store owner in San Fransisco, even had to petition the council to be able to wear trousers. She did so on the proviso that she had worked alongside miners. So her case was still very much focussed on jeans as a man's right.
War, women's rights and the rise of jeans
Once war was over, the Genie was very much out of the lamp. Rosie the Riveter had become a cult symbol and women were refusing to be put back in their traditional box.
Men and women began to vacation on 'Dude Ranches' in the Western US, places that recommended the only clothing as jeans and cotton shirts. They wanted to experience the hard work of what make the country tick. It was the same in Australia for the Jack and Jillaroos. Denim Jeans started to become a symbol of hard work, rebellion and equality. Despite the early adoption of jeans for leisure by Elvis Presley and James Dean, it was this photo of Marilyn Monroe, the most influential and rebellious actress of her time, wearing a pair of mens jeans that threw denim into the mix of true gender equality and feminine power.
Suddenly, jeans on the body of a woman became the symbol of not just hard work, but power, rebellion and strength.
Denim Jeans = Equality
The 1960s and 1970s saw denim and jeans in particular as a symbol of both sexual and racial equality and an ability to break away from the stereotypes of the past. Jeans came to embody independence, freedom and individuality. They crossed both racial and sexual boundaries and became the garment of choice for protest.
Women's Jeans today - and why we created CORFU
These days, wearing denim jeans shows an expression of individuality. Combined with the right outfit, they are a marriage of authenticity and modernity.
Beforehand, the term used to be "Clothes make the woman". These days it's "Women make the clothes". We have the right to decide what to wear. We decide what shape, colour and fit goes with our personalities and lifestyles. CORFU was created with the intention to provide as many different styles and shapes of premium denim jeans as there are women to wear them. And these days, it's more likely that people will ask where you bought your jeans than report you to the authorities!