Yes, the tiny metal buttons actually have a purpose.
Denim, America's favorite fabric. Blue jeans are a part of the Southern DNA, much like seersucker. No longer considered the standard casual uniform for laborers, cowboys, and country singers, denim has become a practical wardrobe staple. In fact, many of you reading this are wearing jeans right now. However, despite the ubiquity of jeans, those round studs on the pockets of jeans typically go unnoticed, with most people not knowing what they’re for beyond a shiny design detail. Well, wonder no longer. Technically, the tiny silver and copper metal buttons are “rivets,” which, historically speaking, were used to keep your denim from tearing.
During the 1870s when farming and agriculture were prevalent, manual laborers, miners, and farmers wore denim waist overalls. Due to the extreme physical demands of the job, their pants would often fall apart, particularly around the pockets, which was the most vulnerable area to strain and movement. At that time, the wife of one specific laborer went to Jacob Davis, a Nevada-based tailor, and requested a pair of denim trousers for her husband to work in that wouldn’t rip so easily. Davis then came up with the idea to incorporate rivets to hold the fabric together. Jean-ious!
According to the Levi’s website, Davis wrote a letter to Levi Strauss around 1872, identifying the way he crafted pants for his customers. In the letter, he stated it was through the use of “rivets at points of strain to make them last longer.” The idea appealed to Strauss, and the two formed a partnership and developed a patent for the functional design element in 1873. Thus, jeans as we know (and wear) them today were born. So basically, you have Davis and Strauss to thank for ensuring your go-to blues are long-lasting and free of holes.
Who knew these studs had such a rich history? The next time you’re putting on your favorite pair, remember these tiny guys are what’s keeping everything together.