Home » Lifestyle » Invented by slaves and a disguise for the rich who wanted to mock the workers: the dark true story of the cowboy | Fashion

Invented by slaves and a disguise for the rich who wanted to mock the workers: the dark true story of the cowboy | Fashion

Invented by slaves and a disguise for the rich who wanted to mock the workers: the dark true story of the cowboy |  Fashion

Yves Saint Laurent said, in one of his most quoted phrases, that he regretted not having been the one to invent jeans. Posterity has bestowed this honor on tailor Jacob Davis and his partner, Levi Strauss, an immigrant from Bavaria living in San Francisco who sold work clothes to miners and ranchers and who in 1873 patented denim pants with rivets, which prevented break when carrying tools. However, it is already known that history is told by the winners, and the most democratic garment in history, in addition to being a North American cultural symbol, was neither so North American in its beginnings nor so democratic either. Rather the complete opposite. The history of the origin of denim, the resistant cotton fabric with which jeans are made, is more or less well known. The origin can be traced to Nimes, the French region that is still a powerful producer of this fabric (hence the name ‘denim’, from Nimes) or to the port of Genoa, where garments were made for sailors. The fabric was called ‘blue from Genoa’, blue from Genoa; (hence, also, the nomenclature of blue jeans); Some even argue that the origin of the fabric is Spanish, but what is not so clear is where that characteristic blue comes from, which is obtained naturally from indigo and was popularized for resisting stains and washing. A documentary, ‘Riveted: the history of jeans’ that premieres this Saturday at the Moritz Feed dog, Barcelona’s fashion documentary festival, clears up this and other doubts. And, as expected, the conclusions are not comfortable at all: the story of the invention of jeans and its rise to American cultural icon have more shadows than lights. Indigo is one of them. The invention of natural dye is credited to Eliza Lucas in the 17th century. Daughter of a governor in the colonial era, Lucas, an expert in botany, managed to extract the pigment from the plant, a dye that was long-lasting and, above all, very cheap. Hence it began to be used for slave clothing. They not only picked cotton, they also developed techniques for growing and extracting the pigment from indigo, a plant that, to no one’s surprise, came, like them, from the Caribbean and East Africa. Rough cotton and dye, a combination that made the original cowboys commonly called “slave clothes” or, directly, “black clothes”, despite the fact that in the books its first uses are associated with cowboys: “in reality it was not So”, says denim historian and collector Evan Morrison in the film, “the South needed one more crop for the rotation of tobacco, rice and cotton: it was indigo. They made a lot of money with it, and all the slaves dyed their work clothes with it.” But this is not the only shadow that hangs over the heroic story that accompanies the cowboys. Its rise as an icon of North American values ​​is, to a large extent, built on the structural inequalities, of class and race, that still continue to drag the country. Historian Seth Rockman, author of the essay «Negro Cloth: Mastering the Market for Slave Clothing in Antebellum America», tells us that the garment did not begin to become popular horizontally, as is often believed, but rather as a disguise / mockery of the poor classes. During the Great Depression, a time when the hegemonic story took peasants and small ranchers as protagonists, those who built ‘America from below’, many farmers began to open their enclosures to the rich, as a tourist attraction and a way to earn money. money. It was then that many privileged men and women began to dress up in cowboys for their weekend visits. It was an unsubtle way to ingratiate themselves with a system that seemed so exotic to them as to pay admission to visit it. In fact, in the mid-thirties, Vogue magazine popularized the image of the cowgirl with the not-so-subtle title of ‘Western Chic’ The image of the cowgirl became popular among the upper classes during the Great Depression Photo: Getty And, speaking of labor, it is very likely that Rosie The Riveter, that fictional character painted by Norman Rockwell from a popular song by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb, was not even white. Another documentary, entitled ‘Invisible warriors’, recounts the enormous (and forgotten) work carried out by the ‘Black Rosies’ (this is how they were later called) during the Second World War. It is estimated that more than two million women, of all races, began working in factories to replace the men who had gone to war. Of these, more than half ended up being black. “It was his opportunity to leave the south of the country and do work beyond domestic service,” they say in the documentary. For them it was not only a way of serving the country, but a necessary economic alternative. But Rosie was white, she was wearing a blue denim shirt and a red bandana, meaning she was carrying the United States flag. The end of the war and the return of the veterans brought with it the return of women to the home and a renewed interest in discriminating against the social role of the genders, although that is another story. Women welders dressed in denim in 1943 Photo: Getty When Marlon Brando starred in ‘Savage’ in 1953, young people seemed to go crazy with the aesthetic of jeans and leather jackets. The Texan was already a common garment in Europe, (it had been brought, in fact, by the American soldiers, who wore it frequently when they were not wearing their war uniform) but it was then, with Brando turning the biker legend into the media . when ‘jean’ became synonymous with insurrection. It was banned in some schools for inciting riots and, for this reason, during the 1960s it was revived to become the symbol of the counterculture. Martin Luther King (left) and Reverend Ralph Abernathy during the march to Selma. Photo: Getty Hippies wore jeans, mostly customized with patches emblazoned with political messages. But, although much of the merit in its real popularization is due to them, not all the revenue is theirs. As they explain in ‘Riveted’. The huge civil rights demonstrations that took place during the decade had the cowboy as an implicit dress code. People of African descent (including Martin Luther King himself) wore overalls and jeans to show respect to their slave ancestors who made them and wore them as uniforms, and to the thousands of workers who continued to wear them in factories in the South. It is not surprising, therefore, that the hip hop culture of the late eighties popularized them again, this time very wide and dropped, as a sign, once again, of protest against racist incarcerations (belts are prohibited in the prison uniform). ). The most democratic and worn garment in the world was and continues to be a cultural icon, but like almost any cultural icon, the legend of how it was built is just that, a legend. Poster for the adaptation of ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ (1940) Photo: Getty

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– Article Written By @Leticia García from https://smoda.elpais.com/moda/inventado-por-esclavos-negros-y-disfraz-para-ricos-que-querian-mofarse-de-los-trabajadores-la-historia-oculta-de-los-vaqueros/

Nicole Aniston