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Blue Jeans (Object Lessons)

Blue Jeans (Object Lessons)

Current price: $14.95
Publication Date: January 12th, 2023
Bloomsbury Academic
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Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.

Few clothing items are as ubiquitous or casual as blue jeans. Yet, their simplicity is deceptive. Blue jeans are nothing if not an exercise in opposites.

Americans have accepted jeans as a symbol of their culture, but today jeans are a global consumer product category. Levi Strauss made blue jeans in the 1870s to withstand the hard work of mining, but denim has since become the epitome of leisure. In the 1950s, celebrities like Marlon Brando transformed the utilitarian clothing of industrial labor into a glamorous statement of youthful rebellion, and now, you can find jeans on chic fashion runways. For some, indigo blue might be the color of freedom, but for workers who have produced the dye, it has often been a color of oppression and tyranny.

Blue Jeans considers the versatility of this iconic garment and investigates what makes denim a universal signifier, ready to fit any context, meaning, and body.

Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in The Atlantic.

About the Author

Carolyn Purnell is a historian, writer, and lover of all things colorful. She is the author of The Sensational Past: How the Enlightenment Changed the Way We Use Our Senses, and her work has appeared in publications including Psychology Today, Wall Street Journal, CityLab by The Atlantic, Good Housekeeping, and Apartment Therapy.