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The History of Button Fly Jeans

The origin of button fly jeans can be traced back to the invention of the button fly itself, which was first featured on the original pair of Levi’s 501 jeans created on May 20, 1873. (That’s 20 years before the zipper was conceived and nearly a half-century before the zipper as we know it today was invented!) Button fly jeans remained the standard until 1947, when Levi’s added a zipper fly to their jeans in hopes of appealing to female customers. Women living on the West Coast who worked on ranches had been wearing button fly Levi’s for years, but women on the East Coast thought button fly jeans lacked modesty, prompting the company to roll out the new option. Eventually, the zipper option was marketed towards men, too, and jeans wearers developed their own preferences over time. Some appreciated the efficient functionality of zippers, while others preferred the aesthetic of the button fly. (Aside from their unique, “retro” look, button flies actually lead to more noticeable coloration and fading over time!) In today’s fast-paced world, the zipper generally wins out, but Levi’s and other jeans makers continue to manufacture button fly jeans because their vintage aesthetic has gained widespread appreciation in recent years, making it very likely that both options are here to stay.

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