Deep Dive into Denim: 6 Must-See Documentaries

How much do you know about clothes from movies? It’s not too much to be honest, they just wear the items and nothing is ever really spoken about, especially when it comes to jeans. You might want to watch a few different documentaries on the fashion industry and denim, as it’s really insightful! The process of making jeans is never boring, it’s a fascinating learning adventure from start to finish, so here are 6 different documentaries that are about denim – enjoy!

1. “Blue Gold: American Jeans” (2014)

The film showcases fashion designers, pioneers of jeans culture, vintage jeans experts, and traders traversing the American landscape in search of denim treasures: American-made clothing in blue gold.

Regrettably, like many industries and manufacturing sectors, the jeans-making industry departed from these shores during the 1990s. In 2003, Levi Strauss followed other jeans manufacturers to China, India, and other countries with cheap labor. Nowadays, only a handful of “boutique” jeans brands are manufactured in America.

The documentary presents eye-opening scenes of factories occupied by children and elderly individuals, sitting on crates and dedicating long hours to monotonous tasks involved in jeans production for the new era.

2. “Rivet” (2011)

The documentary “Rivet” centers around the denim manufacturing process, tracing its journey from cotton fields to the final product. It offers valuable insights into the skilled craftsmanship and artistry involved in producing jeans. This is one I recommend as it has such a good insight into the process of making jeans!

You can watch this documentary on Amazon Prime. However, there’s a good chance you’ll have to change Prime Video country to access it as it might be country restricted. This can be done through Amazon Prime VPN, which is capable of fooling the service’s filters. You could try VeePN, which has many servers with white IP addresses and powerful tracking protection, so simply switch to the US region and this documentary and others will become available.

3. “Riveted: The History of Jeans” (2022)

Written, directed, and produced by Anna Lee Strachan and Michael Bicks, this contemporary film brings a fresh perspective to jeans’ historical significance. It explores the intersection of politics, identity, and fashion, positioning jeans as a quintessentially American item that reflects the complexities of our nation. “Jeans serve as an unexpected gateway to discussions on race, gender, class, and culture,” said Cameo George, the executive producer of The American Experience.

To truly understand jeans, we must first examine the cultivation of cotton and the art of indigo dyeing. “Riveted” boldly rewrites history by shedding light on the contributions of enslaved individuals from West Africa to the craft, challenging the traditional narrative that credits Eliza Lucas. Levi Strauss, an iconic figure, collaborated with tailor Jacob Davis and introduced the game-changing copper rivets.

Jeans transcended fashion to become a political statement worn by hippies and Civil Rights activists alike. They even became the official uniform of the Peace Corps. In the 1970s, jeans found their way into the realms of glamor and designer fashion, solidifying their place in popular culture. A decade later, they became an integral part of the hip-hop uniform, widely emulated and imitated.

4. “Weaving Shibusa” (2015)

Clothes serve a purpose beyond utility. They shield us from the elements, adhere to social norms, and convey a story. Aesthetics, nostalgia, and craftsmanship embody their narrative. They unfold a tale not only about the wearer but also the world they inhabit. In Japan, this intricate relationship with clothing is acknowledged more than in America. Japanese denim epitomizes this connection.

According to Devin Leisher, one of the filmmakers behind the documentary “Weaving Shibusa,” denim was unfamiliar in Japan until the late 1940s and early 1950s due to the occupation. This late introduction significantly influenced Japan’s denim aesthetic, particularly their profound admiration for vintage elements. Leisher illustrates that the Japanese perceive a pair of jeans as authentic only when they exhibit signs of wear. Raw denim merely serves as a foundation for a captivating and enduring narrative.

5. “The True Cost” (2015)

“The True Cost” documentary delves into the realm of clothing – encompassing the garments we don, the individuals involved in their creation, and the profound impact this industry wields upon our planet. For decades, the cost of clothing has plummeted, but the toll on both human lives and the environment has skyrocketed.

“The True Cost” – an extraordinary documentary that unravels the concealed narrative, prompting us to ponder: who truly bears the burden of our clothing? This project threads a thread through the history of different nations and boasts interviews with eminent influencers such as Stella McCartney, Livia Firth, and Vandana Shiva.

6. “Worn Stories” (2021)

In concise half-hour segments, we delve into the profound significance of clothing for different individuals. These tales unveil the acquisition process, the memories imbued within them, the epiphanies they ignite, and the countless functions garments fulfill beyond sheltering our vulnerable bodies.

Every episode revolves around a central theme, such as “Community,” “Beginnings,” and “Survival.” The show incorporates brief interludes, where individuals share personal stories. For instance, a teenager holds up her late grandmother’s trousers, which she never considered wearing until her grandmother’s passing, when they became a tangible connection to her. These interludes intertwine with longer, more substantial tales narrated by the protagonists, supplemented by animated sequences.

While some stories exude a gentle, almost hypnotic quality, like Mrs. Park’s journey from losing everything during the Asian financial crisis to finding solace in her yellow sweater at a dance class, others teeter on the absurd, resembling shaggy dog tales.


If you are interested in the history of the things that surround you, then denim is one of the things with the richest history. It has both more local or local meanings and global ones. They have come a long way from hand-crafted to mass-produced, from cowboys to the youth movement. There’s so much to learn about our lovely blue fabric! Remember that this is mostly evident for the entire clothing industry, so it’s not just denim that has an impact. Have you seen any of these documentaries?


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