Denim Innovations That Range From Ridiculous to Genius

Versatile, reliable, and protective – these are qualities that have been associated with denim for centuries. Even before “waist overalls” became the standard attire for miners during the gold rush, the cotton warp-faced twill textile was a staple amongst sailors facing gruelling conditions in Genoa, Italy. But the spread of this beloved closet item truly took hold in 1873 when Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis created the most important innovation in jean construction – the use of the metal rivet. This design integration reinforced denim trousers with metal rivets at points of strain, bringing to prominence the durable and iconic trouser that we know and love today.

Since then, inventors, designers, artists, technologists, scientists and entrepreneurs have manipulated the garment in ways that preserve the classic nature of the blue jean, but also create more opportunities for its aesthetic and purpose. We’ve taken a look at some of these leaps and bounds – some of them are downright bizarre, and some are simply inspiring.


Twenty years since the Back to the Future franchise was made, clever cinephiles have tried to craft their own hoverboards or turn their beat-up cars into DeLoreans. But one movie prop is no longer just a fabric of their imagination. Inventor and designer Ross O’Mullane recently created the inside-out jeans as seen in Back to the Future II with the intention of making pockets, belt loops and the fly more accessible.


Pajama jeans

Their tagline says it all, “Pajamas you live in. Jeans you sleep in.” On the upside, students who need to roll into a 9am class will no longer stand out like a sore thumb in their baggy penguin pants. The pajama jeans actually come in all colors and fits – from skinnies to bootcuts and even jean shorts. Sometimes comfort comes with a little bit of deception.


Levi’s Gremlin

“The economy car that wears the pants.” In 1973, American Motor Corporation (AMC) partnered with Levi’s to create a fully denim upholstered vehicle; the compact car was a perfect fit with the jean brand’s new Orange Tab collection.

levi's gremlin

Recycled Denim Insulation

The house that denim built – literally. The company Bonded Logic has created UltraTouch, an environmentally-friendly insulation material that uses 80% denim to offer thermal and sound protecting functions for homes.


Moisturizing Jeans

Hey, time is precious, and sometimes you’re too busy to slap on some lotion before going to work. Am I right? Talk about fashion gimmicks – Wrangler’s Moisturizing jeans come in different fits, but more significantly, they come in distinct “finishes.” What matches your chambray oxford shirt better – Aloe Vera, Olive Extract or Smooth Legs?


Soundproofing Material in Ford Focus

In a move to become a cleaner and greener company, Ford decided to use 100% recycled materials for the carpeting and soundproofing of the 2012 Focus. Each car was believed to use two pairs of jeans for the outfitting of their interiors.


Project Jacquard

Our attachment to our mobile devices has become as natural as, well, living in a pair of jeans. Google’s Project Jacquard and Levi’s are currently working on weaving technological interactivity functions into your denim. Conductive yarns, miniature electronics embedded in buttons and tiny circuits will be able to sense and wirelessly deliver information to mobile devices, allowing users to access apps, phone features and other services.



– Ria Nevada