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Study shines spotlight on worldwide success of denim

09 Nov 2010

A new book has shone a spotlight on the world's most popular garment in an effort to understand the secret of its success.

Social Scientists Dr Sophie Woodward from The University of Manchester and Dr Daniel Miller from University College London, say the fashion industry cannot dictate the type of jeans we wear -  or whether we want to wear them at all.

Instead, their research reveals how jeans allow people to fulfil the desire to blend in and not stand out.

"Even for those who want to stand out and be noticed, jeans can combine with anything and allow them to feel comfortable and fit in - and that's utterly unique," said Dr Woodward.

"The fact this one particular garment is worn all over the world, and in many countries is the dominant item of casual clothing, is all the more striking when we think about the dazzling array of choices that are offered by the fashion industry."

The researchers found examples from across the world of the different reasons why people wear jeans.

The garment, for example, articulates women's sexuality in the favela slums of Brazil or the alienation of the working class youth alienation in Berlin.

She added: "By studying jeans we learn that many people want to feel connected to the world around us, but at the same time feel particular and individual.

"Obviously, jeans are a multimillion pound industry-  and that partly explains its success.

"But on the other hand, jeans are in many ways resistant to the pressures of commerce: although there have been changes to how jeans are made, the basic appearance of blue jeans has changed little in over a century.

"Even the faded or ripped look created by fashionable labels are designed to replicate how people are actually wearing denim and the natural processes of fading or wearing."