The dirt on denim

Students have been tracking me down lately for help with school projects about The Blue Jean Book. The latest group found me on Facebook, and sent me these questions. So I answered the first five in basic, boring style, and then I tried brainwashing them at the end. Think it’ll work?

1. What inspired you to write this book?
It was an interesting way to explore fashion and history at the same time. Jeans act as a window into a lot of interesting parts of our culture, from gold rush prospectors to 1950s teen rebels.

2. Do you feel that jeans were a key innovation in the fashion industry?
They were originally meant as work wear. When young people adopted them as a symbol of independence, then they became part of the fashion industry.

3. What do you find most interesting about Levi Strauss?
He was an ambitious young man in search of his fortune. It’s interesting that he found a way to get rich off the gold rush without actually searching for gold.

4. In your opinion, what made Levi Strauss better or worse than his competitors? How was his company able to stay in business for over 100 years?
Levi Strauss the man had an eye for innovative ideas. Levis Strauss the company has been very good at spotting trends and changing with the times.

5. Do you think that LS&CO has done a good job maintaining fair worker’s rights policies?
I think most clothing companies have a long way to go in improving workers’ rights and sourcing sustainable materials. However, we as consumers bear much of this responsibility. If we’re buying five pairs of sweatshop-made jeans every year, instead of one fairly-made pair created with organic cotton, then who is to blame for the problems? Our buying power should be used as what it is – power.

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