Saturday, November 12, 2022

People are just realising what the jeans little pocket is for

I don’t know anyone who actually uses the tiny pocket at the front of jeans, but no matter how many new pairs we buy, it always seems to be there, waiting.

It seems to be just about the right size to fit in a couple of coins, but then it’s too tight to easily access them when needed. There’s no hope of getting keys in there, and you can forget about a phone or wallet.

So what is the tiny pocket on jeans actually there for? Turns out it’s not aesthetic, and no matter what rumours you might have heard when you first questioned it all those years ago, it’s not for coins, either.

The tiny pocket actually dates all the way back to the 1800s, when customers didn’t have to worry about phones the size of their hands trying to fit into their clothing.

On 20 May, 1873, Levi – yes, that Levi – Strauss and J.W. Davis patented ‘Improvement in Fastening Pocket Openings’. A few years later, in 1890, the tiny pockets were stitched into Levi’s ‘waist overall’ jeans, and they had a common purpose – carrying pocket watches.

People have come up with all sorts of usages for the pocket. Credit: @levis/TikTok
People have come up with all sorts of usages for the pocket. Credit: @levis/TikTok

Levi Strauss & Co’s very own historian Tracey Panek explained the history to Insider, revealing the purpose for the pocket.

“The oldest pair of waist overalls in the Levi Strauss & Co. Archives (from 1879) includes the watch pocket. Our 19th century overalls had a single back pocket on right side of the pant beneath the leather patch.”

The pocket didn’t feature on suit trousers because pocket watches would have been relocated to the inside of a jacket on such formal occasions.

Nowadays, though, pocket watches are worn more as a fashion statement, with watches fasted to our wrists usually ensuring they don’t take up any space in our clothing, but the pocket remains today due to sentiment with regards to WWII.

The pocket is a regular feature on jeans. Credit: @JohnDonoghue64/Twitter
The pocket is a regular feature on jeans. Credit: @JohnDonoghue64/Twitter

Panek explained: “One interesting fact about the watch pocket is that during WWII the two corner rivets were removed as a way to conserve metal for the war effort.

“The rivets returned to the watch pocket after the war. It was riveted in the top two corners and included our recognisable arch design, called the Arcuate, stitched with a single needle sewing machine.

“The watch pocket was an original element of our blue jeans, like the rivets on our pockets, button fly, arched back pocket stitching and leather patch. To preserve the integrity of the early design, Levi Strauss & Co. maintains the watch pocket.”

After learning about the original purpose of the pocket, many internet users admitted to coming up with their own usages for it, from holding hair pins and AirPods to guitar picks and lighters.

It’s hard to imagine a pair of jeans without the tiny pocket now, so maybe in the future we’ll invent some tiny new device to give it an official new purpose in life.

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