Who Invented Ripped Jeans? The Origin Story of Ripped Jeans

I’m often curious about the origin stories behind my favorite trends. One iconic statement piece that I’m particularly fond of is ripped jeans, so when I started wondering who invented ripped jeans, I was determined to find an answer. From my research, I’m about to share my findings on the fascinating history of this trend.

Who Invented Ripped Jeans?

Who Invented Ripped Jeans

Ripped jeans have become increasingly popular in recent years, with everyone from fashion models to celebrities embracing the trend. But have you ever wondered who first came up with the idea of ripping apart denim and turning it into a style statement?

While many stories and legends surround the origins of ripped jeans, it’s difficult to pinpoint a single person or event that started the trend. Some people trace the concept back to the punk scene of the 1970s, where ripped clothes were a way of rebelling against mainstream fashion norms. Others credit the grunge movement of the 1990s when musicians and fans embraced a “dirty” aesthetic that included ripped and worn-out clothing.

One of the earliest references to ripped jeans comes from the 1950s when rebellious youth started tweaking their denim apparel. Back then, jeans were largely viewed as practical, working-class clothing meant for manual labor, not fashion. But young people in the US and UK started customizing their jeans by adding patches, studs, and other decorations. It wasn’t long before ripping holes in the fabric became part of the DIY jeans craze.

 Vivienne Westwood Founder of Ripped Jeans

The first commercially available ripped jeans are often attributed to Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, two celebrated British fashion designers who were key players in the punk movement. In the 1970s, Westwood and McLaren started selling ripped, safety-pinned clothing in their boutique shop, SEX, which quickly became a hub for punk rock enthusiasts. Their “destroyed” denim creations helped spark a fashion revolution about challenging the status quo and rejecting conventional beauty standards.

Another fashion designer who has been credited with popularizing ripped jeans is Marc Jacobs. In the early 1990s, Jacobs was the creative director of the American fashion brand Perry Ellis, and he famously sent models down the runway wearing a grunge-inspired collection that featured ripped denim, flannel shirts, and combat boots. The collection was immediately controversial, but it sparked a trend that would dominate fashion and pop culture for years.

Fashion Revolution: Ripped Jeans in the 1980s and 1990s

Ripped Jeans in the 1980s and 1990s

During the transformative decades of the 1980s and 1990s, fashion designers took ripped jeans to new heights. Calvin Klein, a trailblazer pushing boundaries, sparked controversy and fascination with a provocative campaign featuring Brooke Shields in ripped jeans, challenging societal norms. Simultaneously, Versace infused ripped jeans with a touch of luxury, intertwining intricate distressing techniques with their high-end designs.

We must notice the impact hip-hop culture has had on ripped jeans. Run-D.M.C, the genre’s pioneers, effortlessly merged streetwear with ripped jeans, establishing a new trend that appealed to urban fashion enthusiasts. Moreover, the rise of baggy jeans in hip-hop culture, embraced by artists like Tupac Shakur, propelled ripped jeans into the mainstream, solidifying their place as a symbol of urban fashion.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who popularized ripped jeans in the fashion industry?

Ripped jeans were popularized by James Dean in the 1960s when he rocked the look in many of his movies. This trend soon caught on and became the most popular choice among fashionistas until the punk style started in the 1970s.

When did ripped jeans start?

I’ve always been curious about who invented ripped jeans. The trend started in the 1970s when punk rockers and other counterculture groups began tearing their jeans to make a statement. This style quickly caught on and has become a staple in many wardrobes.

What are sustainable alternatives to ripped jeans?

As an eco-conscious shopper, I always look for sustainable alternatives to ripped jeans. A great option is to buy jeans with patches or upcycled denim. These denim pieces are often handmade and made with recycled fabric, making them a much more sustainable choice than traditional ripped jeans. Additionally, you can buy second-hand jeans and customize them with patches or rips. This is a great way to show off your style without buying a new pair of jeans.


After exploring the origin of ripped jeans, it’s clear that its story is complicated. While it’s impossible to pinpoint who exactly invented ripped jeans, there’s no doubt that the punk subculture of the 1970s played a major role in popularizing the trend. Likewise, it’s undeniable that the ripped jeans trend has become a fashion staple countless people worldwide enjoy. From celebrities to everyday people, ripped jeans are a way to express yourself without saying a word. Whether you wear them for a fashion-forward look or comfort, ripped jeans are here to stay.

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