The origin of denim jeans - Outback Supply Co
April 29, 2022

How, when and why? The rise of Denim Jeans in Australia

We know that denim jeans are an Outback staple. 

But how did it get here and why is it so culturally important to our hard living country lifestyle?

Most people know that denim was invented in the 1700s in France. But not many people know how it came to become denim jeans. Surprisingly, it wasn't invented for the Outback, or even for the Californian Gold Rush for that matter.

Denim has been a feature of workwear since the 1800s.

Not as jeans though! The first recorded uses of denim were for wagon covers, tents and blankets. Denim Jeans themselves only became a 'thing' when miners and farmers recognised the benefits of this natural, breathable and hardwearing fabric. Initially denim jeans were referred to as 'Waist Overalls'.

Historical denim

That's until Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss got in on the act.

Levi Strauss first popularised denim 'jeans'.

The deep pockets and rivets in his design prevented rips at pressure points and the hardwearing fabric meant hard-working Western types could go for weeks without having to wash or worry.

Levis Denim Jeans

The arrival of jeans in the Outback of Australia meant that the problems of sunburn, saddle sores, scratches, bites and burrs were suddenly a thing of the past. They were worn by Station Managers, Jackaroos and Stockmen alike. Denim jeans became the great leveller as Australia was explored. Tougher, thicker and more economical than synthetics of any kind, denim works as hard as you do, through thick bush, hostile landscapes and with the toughest of wildlife.

Australia takes ownership of our style of jeans through the Jackaroos.

Popular even before WW2, the Jackaroos and station staff of the Outback stations knew what fitted and what worked. Initially basic in concept, the advent of WW2 meant that the Jillaroos came on the scene to take on the hard work of the men as they went off to war. With American and Australian servicemen wearing the symbol of the hard working, rebellious, no nonsense Western lifestyle, it wasn't long before jeans became a status symbol. In the 1940s and 50s, people started to want to experience different ways of life. Being at one with nature, they discovered the benefits of denim jeans and brought them back with them after their holidays.

Women's Rights, Feminism and Outback Bling.

When the men came back form the war, the Jillaroos disappeared back to the cities. However, they started to return in the 1970s. There were a few things that started it. Feminism, of course, the need for an independent lifestyle, breaking away from sexual stereotypical jobs such as secretaries and typists. With them came the tradition of the Outback BLING

Outback Bling Jeans

Outback Supply Company Jeans.

Our denim jeans are the great levellers, appealing to men and women of all walks of life. However, they are specially designed for those hard workers that need performance as well as looks. These iconic garments of hard graft and women's liberation are all made to keep a snug fit whether you're boundary riding, cattle mustering or fencing. They'll stay up as long as you have to. That's because of our stretch and shape hugging mix of cotton, polyester and elastane. Visit our range of denim today to discover why we're the Outback favourite.