Everyone owns at least one or two pairs of jeans, probably a lot more than that. You’re probably wearing a pair of jeans as you’re reading this very sentence.
Everyone thinks jeans were invented by the world-famous Levi Strauss & Co. (aka Levi’s), a name synonymous with the classic blue jean. In truth, they simply invented the style that became the most popular.
Young Levi Strauss (right) was a dry goods merchant, and Jacob Davis (left) was a tailor who bought his cloth from him. These two men created riveted jeans, which featured copper rivets to reinforce key stress points on a denim garment.
Note the “Original Riveted” on the label.
The actual origin of blue jeans and denim fabric goes back further, emerging sometime in the 17th century out of Genoa, Italy, and Nimes, France.
Genoan weavers produced a fabric very similar to modern day jeans and the French name for Genoa, “Gênes,” is likely the origin of the modern name “jeans.” French weavers attempted to recreate the Genoan fabric, and eventually created their own version which was called “de Nimes” (i.e., from Nimes), later known as denim. These fabrics were popular with the working class because of their durability and relative cheap cost.
A traditional female Genoese “blue jeans” dress.
After a long stint in relative obscurity with the working class (especially miners), jeans exploded into popularity in the 1950s with the Greaser subculture inspired by James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause.
Today, jeans come in all shapes and sizes, but there’s one thing they all have in common …
… This little extra pocket that usually seems too small to hold anything useful.
There may be a few designer exceptions, but the vast majority of jeans have them. Even mom jeans!
So what’s the deal? Well, back when Levi’s first created modern-day jeans, wristwatches weren’t a thing yet. If you wanted to tell time, you had a small watch that went into one of your pockets (hence the name, “pocket watch”).
The small extra pocket in the jeans was for cowboys and other rugged types to safely store a pocket watch.
Fast forward to 2016, though. Why are jeans still being made this way? I’m no cowboy, nor am I this guy:
Pocket watches on pocket watches on pocket watches.
You could basically consider them like the fashion equivalent of a vestigial organ – it had a purpose once, but now it’s just there … kind of like your appendix.
Still, it has its uses. You could put all kinds of small objects in there like a lighter, a flash drive, or even candy!
I like to use my little pocket to store money I want to keep out of my wallet, like change that I’m giving back to a friend or money for a specific highway toll. What do you use it for? If you actually use it for pocket watches, please send us a fancy picture of yourself!
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