I love Blue Jeans, but I have not thought much about their cultural or sociological interpretation. Since my university days, I have been an avid Blue Jeans wearer. Add boots and I am off to explore; put on heels and I’m ready for a dinner date. Many an individual might be characterized as a “jeans person.” I once saw Tom Cruise wearing Blue Jeans on the Red Carpet! Bobby Ewing of Dallas fame wore jeans with a coat and tie. Then there were the Denim Divas of 2011, Reese Witherspoon and Hilary Duff. So being a jeans person begs me to know if I’m in good or bad company socially.
What does being a lover of Blue Jeans mean? Anthropology has the answer. According to authors, Daniel Miller and Sophie Woodward in their ethnography, Blue Jeans: The Art of the Ordinary, it is all about interpretation. After an intense study in a North London neighborhood, these anthropologists posit that jeans are a part of one’s social identity, as well as a part of one’s consumption identity.
Long ago Blue Jeans had basically one brand, Levis–the brand everyone wore. Today there are so many kinds of Blue Jeans out there that I’m not caged in by any one brand. Blue Jeans now come in many varieties of colors, shapes, costs and styles that it is no wonder these authors put jeans in the “ordinary” category. To be a jeans person makes one fit into the ordinary. Whether rich or poor, whether wrapped in a jet-bound career or a stay-at-home job, Blue Jeans transforms identity into the ordinary; we don’t have to prove anything while in the Blue Jeans mode.
Miller and Woodward sum up their findings about Blue Jeans by implying when one wears jeans, it is, “a form of liberation from the oppressive burdens of identity.” I feel good about that cultural interpretation; and I’m assuming the Denim Divas and Tom Cruise would agree.