What’s more American than blue jeans? You see them everywhere, from the farm to the office to the runway.But long before denim was fashionable, it was the workwear of choice for America’s gold rush workers in the 1800s. In 1847, Levi Strauss emigrated to the United States to join his brother. As the Gold Rush began to boom, they headed West and set up a family dry goods business, first in Louisville, Kentucky, and later in San Francisco. Among a wide range of products they sold cotton cloth. A customer, Jacob Davis, used Levi’s cotton cloth and rivets to make durable pants for gold miners. He approached Levi with the idea to go into business together. In 1873, Levis and Davis received a patent on denim jeans, and kicked off their long journey from hardworking pants to iconic emblems of modern America.
Jeans were born in the USA, and today there are still brands are dedicated to manufacturing their jeans right here on American soil. Many use cotton from the United States, too. Here are a few of our favorites.
Imogene + Willie
The founders of Imogene + Willie, Matt and Carrie Eddmenson, set up their first shop in an old service station in Nashville, Tennessee. They were “raised with blue-stained hands,” since both had parents who worked in the denim industry. In 2009, they followed started a company committed to manufacturing long-lasting, American-made denim jeans. Today, Imogene + Willie has a loyal following and sells their jeans globally. Their flagship store is still located in that service station in Nashville, and they have another store in Portland as well as an online shop. Browse their American made apparel on their website: www.imogeneandwillie.com
Founded in the home state of denim, California, Taylor Stitch offers well-made, sophisticated clothing without the high-fashion ego or price tags. Taylor Stitch’s denim, like their Democratic Jeans, are made in their denim factory in San Francisco. Their fabric is sourced from Greensboro, North Carolina, the hardware from Lawrenceburg, Kentucky and leather from Curwensville, Pennsylvania. Shop their denim on their website: www.taylorstitch.com
Tony Patella and Pete Searson is another jeans-making duo dedicated to durable, all-American denim. Their blue jeans are produced in San Francisco as well as thread, buttons, rivets, and leather patches in each pair. Tellason specializes in raw selvage denim jeans, which means the jeans aren’t wet processed or manipulated in any way prior to purchase. Learn more about Tellason’s commitment to high-quality, USA Made products on their website: www.tellason.com
Bluer Denim jeans are designed in Portland, Oregon with cotton from Georgia, denim milled at the Cone Mills White Oak facility in North Carolina, and YKK buttons, rivets and zippers forged in Kentucky. The jeans are cut, sewn, washed, and hand-finished in Los Angeles. Even more notable than their commitment to American made products is their “Buy One, Give One” philanthropic mission. For every pair of Bluer jeans you purchase, you can donate back an old pair. Upon receipt, Bluer Denim will give you a $15 credit toward future purchases and share your old pair with someone who really needs them. Learn more about Bluer Denim’s process and philanthropy on their website: www.bluerdenim.com
Buck Mason was founded in 2013 by Sasha Koen and Erik Allen in California. In the beginning, they focused on the classics: denim jeans and cotton tees. Today their menswear line has expanded to include sweaters, jackets, shorts, and polos. Buck Mason sources soft, durable cotton from cotton growers in the USA and the finished garments are constructed in Los Angeles. Since 2014, they’ve made thousands of products in the United States, and have grown their production by over 100% per year. Shop their full collection online: www.buckmason.com
We’d love to hear if one of these denim jean brands or another are your favorite. Tell us by reaching out via Twitter (@HomeGrownCotton).