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Why Do Jeans Have Rivets? (Answered)

You may have noticed that all jeans, regardless of their type, have small metal buttons on the edges of the back and front pockets.

These little things are called rivets. But do you know what these are for and why do jeans have rivets? Keep reading to find out.

Key Takeaways

  • Rivets on jeans were created to hold together the fabric in areas prone to tearing because of stress.
  • Nowadays, they are a good accessory as they naturally contrast the color of the jeans and make them look less plain. You can even find jeans with colorful rivets!
  • As part of an initiative to make jeans more eco-friendly, some fashion houses have pledged to begin removing the rivets on jeans as they are no longer necessary.
  • The downside to rivets is that they aren’t as needed as they used to be, so they don’t hold much purpose on our jeans nowadays except for reinforcing the traditional look jeans have.
  • On low-quality jeans, rivets are among the first things to break down. So, check your washing machine for any fallen-off rivets you might have missed.

What are Rivets?

Jeans have rivets to hold together the fabric, for example, the front or the back pockets. Rivets are essential tools with the specific purpose of holding together two pieces of metal. Although, modern jeans come with rivets nowadays mostly for appearance/cosmetic purposes, and may not even need rivets.

You are probably wondering what rivets are and what their purpose when it comes to jeans is. Generally, rivets are just tools – pins and bolts that hold together two pieces of metal. When we’re talking about jeans, however, they are known as the little pins made out of metal that hold together fabrics, such as the front or the back pockets.

This happened because of a known tailor named Jacob Davis whom we’re going to talk about in the next few paragraphs. Nowadays, all sorts of jeans have rivets, and they come in different colors and styles.

Also, read if you can dry clean jeans.

Why do Jeans have Rivets?

As you may know, the clothes we know as jeans were originally made in the late 1800s for miners and other types of manual laborers. Levi Strauss, the founder of Levi Strauss & Co, one of the most popular brands of jeans to this day at the time had his own dry goods business.

A man named Jacob Davis proposed a partnership with Levi Strauss to make jeans with rivets. After the partnership was set in stone, rivets became a standard in the manufacturing of jeans. But why?

Before the partnership, Jacob Davis was a tailor who manufactured jeans for miners to wear at work and noticed that they would tear apart often due to the physical stress of carrying around heavy tools in pockets and the harsh condition of the job.

He used horse blankets, which already included rivets, as inspiration to add rivets onto jeans in their more delicate areas prone to tearing, such as pockets.

Davis and Strauss quickly realized that rivets had a huge impact on the durability of jeans in the workplace and patented the “Improvement in Fastening Pocket-Openings” in 1873. From there on, all jeans began to use copper rivets to hold the fabric together for better endurance.

Style

Although it’s not their intended feature, rivets on jeans make them look prettier! Most jeans are made of a single material, usually denim, making them look boring. But adding rivets to them naturally contrasts the color of the jeans, as the rivets themselves are usually copper, gold-colored, or any lighter color. Nowadays, you can even find rivets that are more colorful and are made in blue, green, yellow, etc.

Durability

As mentioned before, durability is the primary reason why jeans have rivets. But that was a more important thing in the past than it is now because jeans were made of much worse cotton. Nowadays, they’re made with higher-quality denim and the manufacturing process behind them is fully automated.

I would say that jeans today don’t even need rivets, as high-quality jeans manufactured in the present could potentially last years even without them. Modern methods of stitching using machines make rivets fairly redundant. However, they’re kept as a traditional feature of jeans and are purely decorative.

You can also read a comparison of denim and chambray.

The Future of Rivets on Jeans

Some people think that rivets on jeans could become a thing of the past within the next few decades. This is because of the increased concern about the pollution caused by jean manufacturing.

There are initiatives to reinvent jeans as a more eco-friendly and sustainable piece of clothing, with the most prominent voice being the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, with an initiative named “Jeans Redesign Guidelines”. One of the key things on their list is reducing or fully removing the rivets on jeans.

Many popular fashion labels such as H&M and C&A have already pledged to be a part of this “jeans redesign”, with more labels joining the initiative as it takes off. I wouldn’t be too surprised if, within the next few decades, we see rivets on jeans being abandoned in favor of sustainability.

Downsides to Rivets

As great as they sound, rivets have downsides to them too. One of the biggest disadvantages to rivets would be the fact that if they are made out of low-quality materials they could potentially fall off. If this happens while you are doing an outdoor activity that makes finding the rivet pretty much impossible.

However, the biggest factor that may lead to your rivets falling off as well as when washing your jeans in the washing machine. By washing your low-quality jeans too often, you are risking any of the rivets falling off.

So, after you take your jeans out of the wash make sure to check them and look in the machine at the bottom of it to search for any of the rivets. After that, you can try to fix them up and sew them back onto the place where they initially were.

Another downside is that there isn’t much need for them nowadays, as previously mentioned. The only reason why we still have the rivets on our jeans are as embellishments and accessories because they are considered to be one of the key features we think of when we envision the traditional look of jeans.

You can also read a comparison of Denim and Twill.

Final Words

Although adding rivets to jeans was considered very important in the past, when the manufacturing process for jeans wasn’t up to modern standards, they mostly have a cosmetic purpose now.

Modern jeans may not even need rivets, and we could see a future where rivets are a thing of the past. That’s why it’s important to prioritize other factors when choosing a pair of jeans, such as their rise, their size, and how they fit you specifically.

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