Pockets are probably one of the most functional inventions that have ever been created by humankind. You can use them to store your phone, keys, lipstick, some extra change, and the list is endless. But there is one type of pocket that is notorious for being utterly useless, and the weird thing about it is that most of us have at least one pair of jeans that have it.
Yes, we’re talking about the tiny little pocket above the front pocket of your jeans that nothing seems to fit inside.
What is the small pocket for?
In order to find out the real purpose of this micro pocket, we have to go back a couple of years to the late 1800s.
According to The Sun, this extra flap was stitched into Levi's ‘waist overall jeans’ in 1890, and it was actually designed to hold a popular item of the time—pocket watches! That actually explains a lot about why the pocket is so small.
Tracey Panek, historian of Levi Strauss & Co confirmed:
It appears on the oldest pair of waist overalls - the original name for jeans - in the Levi Strauss & Co. archives that date back to 1879.
They were then mass-produced when they were added to the ‘Lot 501’ jeans—the model that revolutionised denim wear and is in stores even today. What's crazy is that most people assume that it's actually the last pocket to be added on to jeans, when in reality it was there before the back left pocket. The company clarified on their website:
Although the watch pocket is sometimes referred to as the fifth pocket, that honor belongs to the back left pocket, which didn’t appear on our jeans until 1901.
A symbol of Levis
Even though the pocket watch had no use later on, the company decided to keep it as a symbol of the first design. Panek added:
The watch pocket was an original element of our blue jeans, like the rivets on our pockets, button fly, arched back pocket stitching and leather patch.
To preserve the integrity of the early design, Levi Strauss & Co. maintains the watch pocket.
While Levis did create the pocket, other brands adopted the design into their own denim-wear as well, and that is why most of us have at least one pair of jeans with this signature pocket.
In today's time of phones and smartwatches, pocket watches have very little use. So what can you put inside your mini jean pocket? Well, that depends on the size of it.
Some brands have bigger watch pockets in which you could possibly fit your wireless earphones, keys, a lip balm, or maybe a piece of gum. While others are so small that it can probably only hold a few coins and one or two crushed up receipts. Perhaps in a few years, pocket watches will be trendy, and watch pockets will finally be functional again.
But regardless of whether you use them or not, now you know why you have a small pocket on your jeans and the incredible historical significance behind it.