What is Denim Day?

Trigger Warning: The following content contains mentions of sexual assault and rape. 


Denim Day, established in 1999, takes place on the last Wednesday of every April as a part of Sexual Assault Awareness month. On this day people wear denim to support sexual assault survivors and to combat the idea that clothing, in and of itself, can be a form of consent.

This day took place at school on April 27 this year. Two Schoology posts announced the significance of Denim Day and what people should do to show their support. Scarlett Hollenbeck ‘23 said, “I think that Urban should have done a better job of educating people on what it was because a lot of people either didn’t know or didn’t take it seriously.” Some students, herself included, were unaware of the full significance of Denim Day.

The history of Denim Day goes back to 1992, in Rome, Italy. An 18-year-old girl was taking a driving lesson with a 45-year-old male instructor. The instructor guided her to an isolated road, pulled over, removed her jeans, and raped her. The girl reported the rape to the police, and the driving instructor was arrested, and later prosecuted.

In 1998 that same driving instructor appealed to the court claiming that the rape was consensual. The court agreed, and the driving instructor walked free. A statement from the court argued that because the girl’s jeans were so tight, she must have helped him to remove them, which made the rape consensual. This became known throughout Italy as the ‘jeans alibi’.

After the verdict, women in the Italian Parliament showed their support for the victim, and others like her, by sitting on the steps of the Supreme Court building wearing jeans. The movement gained worldwide attention. Then in Los Angeles in 1999 the Executive Director of Peace Over Violence, Patti Occhiuzzo Giggans, organized the first Denim Day in the United States to continue spreading awareness about the culture surrounding victim-blaming. Peace Over Violence is a nonprofit organization whose mission statement is to “Build healthy relationships, families, and communities free from sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence.”

Since then Denim Day has become a nationally recognized day and is organized every year. While not officially organized at Urban, students and staff alike wore denim on the 27th. Morgan Bandy ‘23 said, “There were a lot of teachers that wore denim. I was very happy because I would see Riley walking and he had his jean jacket on. Basically the majority of all the teachers [at Urban].” Bandy also said, “It’s important that we show up and show our support against sexual assault and sexual misconduct.”