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The History of Black Jeans

The most common story goes that Elvis Presley debuted the first pair of black Levi’s jeans in 1957 while promoting his movie, Jailhouse Rock. While Elvis was definitely a fan of black denim and frequently wore the look after first wearing the style on-screen (thus helping to establish its popularity), black jeans actually debuted much earlier. Levi’s offered several jeans in black as far back as 1903 (it’s possible that they were offered even earlier, but any potential records were lost in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire). Notably, early versions of Levi’s overalls for men and boys also came in black denim, as the dark-dyed fabric was particularly appreciated for its ability to hide stains. After Elvis brought black jeans into the public consciousness, their popularity only grew. For example, black Levi’s 501 jeans were especially popular in the 1980s and black 505s had a fashion moment as recently as 2018. Today, black jeans are produced by many denim brands and remain a practical yet fashionable choice that can be used to evoke everything from classic appeal to streamlined elegance to bold rebellion.

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