Known as ‘rivets’, they are placed on areas of the jeans that are most likely to be pulled apart by strain or movement and help hold the fabric together, thereby making them last longer.
But their contribution to the history of denim – and how it acquired its massive popularity – is more interesting. In fact, they led to the creation of “jeans”.
In the 1870s, labourers wore denim as they worked but the physical labour caused their trousers to fall apart quickly.
For this reason, the wife of a labourer went to Jacob Davis, a tailor, and asked if he could create a pair of denim work trousers that would not disintegrate quicte so easily.
Mr Davis came up with the idea of putting rivets on the areas that endured the most strain, such as pocket corners and the base of the fly. The rivets helped hold the fabric together, and meant the trousers were less likely to tear.
With his riveted trousers an instant hit among workmen, Mr Davis needed a business partner, and contacted a certain Levi Strauss, who was a dry goods merchant at the time and had sold Mr Davis the fabric to make his trousers.
The two men received a patent on the design in 1873, and the riveted trousers became a huge success – though they only took the name ‘jeans’ during the 1960s.