What is Denim Day?
Every year on the third Wednesday in April, survivors of sexual assault and advocates commemorate Denim Day by wearing denim jeans, jackets, or shirts.
But what does wearing denim “with a purpose” have to do with building awareness for sexual assault?
Denim Day originated in Italy in the 1990s. In 1992, an 18-year-old woman was raped by her 45-year-old driving instructor during her first driving lesson. Instead of teaching the teen to drive, the instructor drove her to a remote location, raped her, and threatened to kill her if she told anyone. Despite the threats, the teen reported the crime, and the instructor was arrested. He was later convicted of the rape and sentenced to prison.
Fast Forward to 1999
During the offender’s 1999 appeal, the judge overturned the original verdict, stating that the fact that the teen wore “tight jeans,” implied consent. That decision later became known and the “jeans alibi.”
Outraged at the judge’s remarks, women all over Italy wore denim in protest and to show support of the rape survivor.
Denim Day in the United States
Los Angeles’ Peace Over Violence Coalition (formerly known as the LA Rape Crisis Center) started to commemorate Denim Day on the third Wednesday of April— during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In 2011, Peace Over Violence took the movement nationwide. By 2015, with a sponsorship from GUESS Jeans, Denim Day returned to Italy with the launch of Denim Day Europe.
Peace Over Violence has social media materials, merchandise, resources, and tips on how to commemorate Denim Day at your school or workplace.
This year, Denim Day will be celebrated on April 26, 2023. We ask that on Denim Day, you join us by wearing denim to show your solidarity and support for survivors around the world.