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Dungarees: From a Hill in Mumbai to Your Closet

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The word dungarees is a relic of the British colonial presence in India. Dungri was the name applied to a durable cotton cloth exported from India to England in the 1600s, and used to make sails and tents. Dungaree comes from the Marathi term Ḍoṅgarī Killā, or “Hill Fort,” the name of a fortification and port near Mumbai, where the cloth was originally traded. By the middle of the 19th century, this material was also used for sturdy work trousers called dungarees. Jeans were originally made of jean, a fabric from Genoa, Italy, and denim comes from French serge de Nîmes, or “serge from Nîmes,” a town in southern France, which produced it. This is part of a complete episode.

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