But there's always a dark side to denim. In 2012, it's hiding out in the freezer in a gallon zip-close bag.
These days, those rough and rigid artisanal jeans from brands like A.P.C., Tellason and Prps regularly cross paths with soft and stretchy, candy-colored commodity jeans bought at the Gap. That the extremes can lead parallel lives in fashion points to denim's unique universality.
Jeans can be all things to all people, and yet still display each individual's DNA like nothing else.
"What else can be worn by presidents and construction workers, supermodels and soccer moms?" said Andy Knight, creator of the hybrid blog/store Denimology.com. "Denim is a second skin and like your body it ages with time and tells a story about who you are."
"For women there definitely is more of a focus on who is wearing what," said Patrick, who previously worked in corporate merchandising for Ralph Lauren. "Also, with women's body types and curves, they find a designer brand that fits them really well and they pay a premium for it, and they're very loyal because for lots of women finding a perfect fit is tough."
Earning a cult following, labels such as Prps and Evisu (a play on Levi's, dropping the "L" and tacking on a "U") have reincarnated American heritage styling in Japan, which salvaged the old-fashioned shuttle looms but applied modern tweaks. The denim is made to patina with wear, revealing the owner's signature.
Influenced by Americana sites such as A Continuous Lean, other denim aficionados are reviving domestic brands that date to the late 19th century, such as Stronghold of Los Angeles and Cone Denim of Greensboro, N.C.
Patrick identifies with both the Japanese and American denim camps. He collaborated with Prps on a limited edition Selvedge Yard jean, which hits stores in April and is priced around $500. But he still fondly remembers his first pair of Levi's 501s from his youth in Phoenix.
"When I was in fifth grade or so, I got a weekend job busing tables at a restaurant working for a couple bucks an hour. The first thing I bought were my very own Levi's 501 shrink-to-fit jeans, still my favorite to this day."
The colorful jeans of spring may never achieve that iconic immortality, said Chris Laverty, who has paid homage to vintage denim on his Clothes on Film blog. "The '50s rebel in his thick selvage Levi's careering about town on a motorbike and scaring the elderly is long gone," Laverty said.
But transitory styles also deserve a page in the denim record books, he said.
"Right or wrong, such jeans capture the zeitgeist of an era — that is denim's heritage."
It speaks any language, said Valerie Steele, chief curator of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.
She points to her book "50 Years of Fashion: New Look to Now." She chose a Dior dress for the cover of the American edition. "I was delighted but surprised by what they did in the French edition," she said. The cover replaced the Dior image with a pair of blue jeans.
Blue jeans: An American story
The French town of Nimes is credited with inventing denim — "de Nimes," get it? The word "jeans" originates from the French word for Genoa — Genes — where sailors wore denim trousers. "But at the end of the day where it really happened was with Levi's making trousers for miners in San Francisco," said Jon Patrick, who writes the blog The Selvedge Yard.
1873: Levi Strauss & Co. files a patent for riveted pockets, to reinforce stress points on pants. This is considered the birth of blue jeans, known as "waist overalls" for several more years.