The exhibition explores the multifaceted history of denim and its relationship with high fashion from the 19th century to the present. The exhibition features more than 70 objects from the museum’s permanent collection, many of which have never been on view. In addition to the history of jeans, Denim examines a variety of denim garments—from work wear to haute couture—in order to shed new light on how a particular style of woven cotton has come to dominate the clothing industry and the way people dress around the globe.
Because of its durability, denim began as an ideal fabric for work wear— most famously in Levi Strauss & Co.’s clothing for the fortune hunters of the 19th-century California gold rush. Today, denim is one of the world’s most beloved and frequently worn fabrics. It is speculated that on any given day, more than half the world’s population is wearing jeans.