The dungaree was mentioned for the first time in the 17th century. It was referred to as a cheap, thick cotton cloth, coloured blue, but could be white, that was worn by the impoverished peoples in a dockside village in India called ‘Dongri’ – the Hindi name of this cloth was ‘dungri’.  And this, of course, is where the word “dungaree’ is derived from.

Look at it now!

This sturdy cloth was exported to England where it was used in the manufacture of clothing worn for hard, manual labour.  The Navy Seals used this material for their utility uniforms during World War 1 and the sails on boats were made from dungri.

In 1853, a designer named Levi Strauss and his business partner Jacob Davis joined the bib and trousers to make the first overalls out of dungri. Dungarees are made from pre-coloured yarn, while jeans are woven with uncoloured yarn and dyed afterwards. 

During the late 40’s and early 50’s this material became fashionable as it was comfortable, easy to wear and practical. Initially though, any fashion related to dungarees was solely associated with rural American men. Cowboy gear. The use of these overalls – known as ‘slops’, widely worn in the militias of the American revolutionary war, where the bib and jeans were separate. By the mid 1800’s the bib and trousers came together and formed the first overalls. Ideal for hard physical labour and carrying tools, eliminating the need for waist belts. 

Dungarees/overalls became standard clothing for workers on the mines, in factories and on construction sites. The overalls were being mass-produced and even colour-coded according to the profession of the wearer: white for painters, pinstriped for railroad workers and different shades of blue for the rest of the working class.

It wasn’t until the first World War that women started wearing these garments, as they worked in the factories to help in the war efforts. Dungaree jeans were given a major boost in 1930, when they were marketed in small sizes for kids. Becoming even more popular when movie stars such as John Wayne and Clint Eastwood started wearing them and turning the dungaree overalls into a symbol of rugged sexiness. 

These garments were given various fashionable modifications in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’90s, becoming the focus for the clothes of many fashion designers. The dungaree was revived in 2010, with many innovative designs, which were sported by prominent celebrities such as Pixie Lott, Rihanna, and Alexa Chung.


We carry the super cool and stylish dungaree in various colours and all sizes here at Black Aqua.

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