When we think about buying denim, we often think about fit and wash. But nowadays, jeans, jackets, and other clothing items made from denim can cost more than a month's rent, so it's the price tag, too, that requires extra consideration before committing. To understand why prices have gotten so high, it's important to know where the wardrobe staple came from — and why it remains as important (and relevant) today.
The Fashion Institute of Technology's latest exhibit, Denim: Fashion's Frontier
, pulls back the curtain on denim's long history: As it turns out, even though early denim prototypes are commonly associated with male-dominated labor (and the men who wore them), women actually wore the fabric just as much. The selection, curated by Emma McClendon, features denim work pants from the 1840s all the way up to last season's iterations from the runways of Rag & Bone
, Chloé, and more. To put it lightly — it's a lot of jeans.
Following the aforementioned pair of 19th century bottoms, the exhibit's chronology continues with a pair of 501 Levi's (no surprise there), a women's work jacket, a women's walking suit (because "play denim" was a thing back then), Rosie the Riveter-style jumpsuits, and even those Calvin Kleins worn by you-know-who
back in the '80s. Noticeably absent from the display is a pair of Ashish unisex studded patchwork denim jeans
— but the retrospective does
feature a sick haute couture denim blouse with pearl buttons designed by Elsa Schiaparelli, so we're fine with that.
To learn more about the textile's rich history, the museum at FIT has offered up a sneak peek of what's on display, ahead. If there's one thing to take away from this exhibit, it's that you should grab your favorite pair of jeans and never let go. After all, a hundred years from now, they'll be just as culturally significant — not to mention good-looking.Denim: Fashion's Frontier is on display through May 7, 2016 at the Museum at FIT.