If you’ve ever put on a pair of jeans, the chances are that you’ve probably noticed the tiny copper buttons around the jean’s pockets. These copper buttons are called rivet buttons, and you may not have given much thought to them until this point. But as it turns out, these buttons are a vital component in jeans and have a pretty interesting story of origin, as you are about to discover.
The Inception of Jeans and Jean Rivets
The first pair of jeans to ever grace this world can be traced back to the late 19th century, where two chaps, Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss partnered up to produce the first pair of jeans. Jacob Davis was a tailor in Reno, Nevada while Levi Strauss and his wife operated stores that sold fabric for making clothing and garments.
The idea of using rivets to reinforce clothing was a brainchild of Jacob Davis and was inspired by horse blankets. These horse blankets were made using rivets for strength. In the years leading to 1871, Jacob used to buy fabric from Levi Strauss & Co. then make riveted clothing for the miners in Reno.
Jacob discovered that the day to day mining activities used to take a toll on the miners’ clothing. Their clothes would rip apart from pressure and stress of carrying heavy tools in their pockets as well as the constant wear and tear of dipping in and out of the pocket to place or take out the tools. Therefore, he used copper rivets to reinforce the areas around the pockets and crotch to increase the strength and durability of the clothing.
In 1872, Jacob Davis sent a detailed letter to Levi Strauss requesting partnership to scale up his operation since Levi Strauss & Co. was an already established enterprise that was operating in many regions. That letter was the beginning of a wonderful partnership.
In 1873, Levis partnered up with Jacob, and together they applied and got a patent for “improvement in fastening of pocket openings.” In the following years, they set out to create a new kind of work clothing termed as “waist overalls” which featured copper rivets on specific areas around the pockets and crotch.
Purpose of Jean Rivets
If you are wearing jeans, take a look at the tiny round copper rivets fitted strategically around your high-tension areas. During the early years when rivets were introduced to reinforce clothing, riveted jeans were manufactured specifically for miners. However, the jeans’ toughness and durability saw them evolve to become the attire choice for manual workers.
Fast forward to today, and the rivets in jeans are still there. Although they have evolved through the years with regards to material and design, the rivets in modern-day jeans are still fitted in the high-tension areas to serve the same purpose of providing extra support.
Jacob Davis’ and Levi Strauss’ innovative idea for jeans was born out of necessity at that period. But little did they know that their creation would become a mainstream clothing item that will last for more than 2 centuries and counting.
With alterations such as skinny jeans, jean shorts, boyfriend jeans and others, the original workers’ jeans created by the duo all those years ago have paved the way for fashion and clothing trends around the globe. So, the next time you look at your jean rivets, you will at least know their purpose and incredible back story.