Denim Day traces its roots back to 1992, when an 18-year-old Italian woman said she was raped by her 45-year-old driving instructor in a small town; she said he took her to an isolated spot, forced her to get out, and sexually assaulted her. He said they had consensual sex in the car.
The man eventually went to trial and was convicted of indecent exposure in a public place — the woman appealed and he was convicted on all charges plus sentenced to 34 months in jail. However, in 1998, the Supreme Court of Appeals in Rome overturned his rape sentence. Among other reasons, they pointed out that she was wearing tight jeans. They said that "jeans cannot be removed easily and certainly it is impossible to pull them off if the victim is fighting against her attacker with all her force," and thus, she must have helped him take them off. (You can read more about the case in this 1999 New York Times article.)
Following the ruling, women in the Italian Parliament were outraged; they wore jeans to show solidarity with the victim and held a protest. Shop owners throughout Rome and Naples began selling "antirape jeans." The news spread to California, where Patricia Giggans, the executive director of Peace Over Violence, kicked off Denim Day in Los Angeles to spread awareness about sexual violence. The first Denim Day in LA was held in April 1999 to coincide with Sexual Violence Awareness Month in April.
"Since then, wearing jeans on Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault. In this rape prevention education campaign we ask community members, elected officials, businesses and students to make a social statement with their fashion by wearing jeans on this day as a visible means of protest against the misconceptions that surround sexual assault," reads the Denim Day website. This year, Denim Day falls April 27.
In 2011, the campaign went national and changed from Denim Day LA to Denim Day USA. In 2015, it partnered with the GUESS Foundation and spread globally to Canada and Italy.
Some people are already promoting the day on social media.
Guys, for the next week we are going to be doing something new - '7 Days of Denim' We are doing this in honour of #DenimDay which falls on the 27th of April. Every year the Denim Day campaign is run to raise awareness about sexual assault. In 1992, an Italian convicted for the rape of an 18 year old was released because the victim was wearing 'tight denims' thus making it impossible for the accused to take them off without her permission and making this act 'consensual'. Enraged by this verdict, all the women of the Italian Parliament protested against this by wearing denims to work. Lets take a cue from this and show that just because my jeans are too tight or my clothes too small, I'm not asking for it and that rape in no way is excusable. So this denim day lets #WearDenimsLikeABoss
One of the best things in this months @elleusa issue is this important reminder courtesy @guess and @peaceovrviolnce --- a week from today is #denimday in honor of #sexualassaultawarenessmonth. Mark your calendar and wear your denim next week 💪🏻✨ more importantly, let people know WHY. There's never an excuse or a reason for #rape. More info on how to get involved here: www.denimday.org Tag a friend in comments and let's get the word out. #rockyourmojo #nomeansno #takeaction #shareyourstory #useyourvoice #wegotthis
How can you participate? Aside from wearing jeans on April 27, you can sport Denim Day pins and shirts to raise awareness, donate, or head to the website to take a pledge to "be the person who stands in support of survivors and educates yourself and others about sexual violence."