Jeans Are Illegal in North Korea, and 5 Other Facts You Never Knew


Your favorite pants maybe a pair of blue jeans, but I bet you never knew these 6 amazing facts about blue jeans.

Ever since the 1870s when the world-famous Levi Strauss, a German immigrant with a San Francisco dry food store, teamed up with Jacob Davis, who was a tailor from Reno, Nevada, to create sturdy pants for miners, Americans and people from other parts of the world has had a deep love affair with all types of blue jeans.

Below are six of the things you may not know about this famous most pants.

1. Those Rivets were not for fashion; they Had a Purpose

It wasn’t just for fashion or style that Levi’s jeans have had those tiny copper rivets on the front and back pockets since the start.

These copper rivets were originally created to make the seams of the first set of miners’ pants more durable. An article in 1873 in the Pacific Rural Press wrote that this unique feature will be “quite popular amongst our working men,” at that time.

Also pointing out that nothing looked more slouchy in a worker than to see him working with pockets ripped open and dangling down. The article added that no other part of a person’s clothing is so apt to be ripped and torn as the pockets.

Also, you know that small fifth pocket on every pair of Levi’s? It has a name, and it is called a watch pocket, especially because it was meant to be a pocket where watches can be kept.

In the 1930s, the small pockets were sewn to the jean pants just to cover the rivets because of complaints that the rivets scratched furniture. After a while, the rivets were brought back to view in 1947.

2. Blue Was thought to be Best

The words “denim” and “jeans” stem from two European ports that at the time had been making similar fabrics as far back as the Middle Ages. In Nimes, France, many weavers had been attempting to reproduce a cotton corduroy that was made popular in Genoa, Italy.

They instead ended up creating their own sturdy fabric, known as “serge de Nimes,” which was later shortened to the now popular “denim.” This material was the one Taylor and Strauss used for their jeans.


The reason why the threads of the popular jean fabric were dyed indigo is that, unlike natural dyes, indigo is a color that binds to the threads on clothes externally. So, every single time the denim fabric is washed, some of the natural dye molecules — as well as the thread — are slowly stripped away.

This is a process that softens the rough fabric and then makes the jeans more comfortable on the skin over time, not to mention that it becomes more form-fitting. In the present day, synthetic indigo has become a replacement for the natural dye.

3. Dude Ranches was responsible for Making the Jean fabric more Popular with Everyday Americans

Although a lot of people often associate blue jeans and white shirts with cowboys, records show that relatively few of them actually wore the fabric (history reveals that farmers and miners were more likely to wear them).

But as soon as it was the 1930s, pants made from jeans had become quite popular with everyday Americans, all gratitude to the dude ranch craze. Many Americans never have a jean until the Depression-era.

During that time, ranchers found a way to make extra money by allowing every day, paying customers to visit and have fun playing at being cowboys. It is good to note that many an American only purchased their first pair of denim in anticipation of their weekend dude ranch visit.

But these pants were not the regular wear on weekdays as they were only seen as weekend wear by the owners.

4. Movie Stars Made Jean wears Popular with Teens

In 1955, Actor James Dean created the classic teen-angst movie titled “Rebel Without a Cause,” telegraphing his unruly ways with his seemingly crazy uniform of T-shirt, leather jacket, and blue jeans.

Marlon Brando was seen wearing the precise look in the 1953 movie titled “The Wild One.” The females didn’t want to the left out of the new fashion craze as Marilyn Monroe popularized the same outfit for women (excluding the leather jacket) in the movie titled “The Misfits.”

The so-called “cowboy” look was meant to symbolize that these young individuals did not want to conform to social norms and longed for the open range, in a manner of speaking. In fact, in the 1960s pants made from jeans were not allowed in schools as they were considered to be a symbol against authority.

Nonetheless — or as a result of this — denim became strongly associated with youth culture as time went by and the 1950s gradually morphed into the ’60s and further. And as these teenagers who loved jeans became adults, they didn’t let go of the fashion trend and continued to wear jeans everywhere.


5. They May Be on Their Way Out of fashion for good

Jeans have fast become a favorite for many and have always been closely associated with Americans and American values. However, there is cause to fear that the love affair may be cooling down.

After a few recent years of recorded poor company earnings, there have been speculations by media reports that Americans were gradually ditching jeans for good, and opting for “athleisure” wear such as leggings, joggers, and yoga pants. Time will tell, and fashion trends will help also.

Levi Strauss recorded a modest profit for the first quarter the year 2017, while VF Brands, which is the owner of Lee and Wrangler jeans, recorded a loss. But we would not want to imagine that people around the world would leave their jeans and not purchase new ones as it would send many popular brands out of the fashion space for good.

6. Jeans are illegal in North Korea

Jeans are cool to wear, but they have been banned in North Korea for a while as part of a push to get rid of Western cultural influences from the larger North Korean society. Anyone caught violating the no-denim order could end up in a labor camp.

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Emmanuella Ekokotu
Ekokotu Emmanuella is a sociologist and Anthropologist, writer, and fashion model who lives in Benin city, Edo state,Nigeria.