Jeans: A comparison of perceptions of meaning in korea and the united states

Marilyn DeLong, Ae Ran Koh, Nancy Nelson, Anne Ingvoldstad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The focus of this research was to determine what similarities or differences in meaning develop when one product, blue jeans, developed in one culture, is used in another. Students' perceptions of blue jeans in the United States and Korea were the focus of this research. A questionnaire translated into the language of the respective country consisted of open-ended, short-answer questions and bipolar word pairs to measure the meaning attributed to jeans within both cultures. A total of 783 students in Korea and the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 24 who wore jeans at least three times a month were participants. Aspects of communication theory provided a theoretical framework for the discussion of responses and cross-cultural interpretations of meaning. U.S. and Korean respondents indicated that jeans are worn for comfort and versatility. For U.S. respondents, jeans symbolize American culture as a whole, whereas for Korean respondents, jeans symbolize a more specific role: participation in youth/student culture within contemporary Korean society. Differences in meanings attached to jeans in Korea as compared to the U.S. indicate a need for considering cultural context when developing and promoting U.S. products for use in other cultures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)116-125
Number of pages10
JournalClothing and Textiles Research Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998


  • Culture
  • Jeans
  • Meaning
  • Symbol


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