Levi's pocket stitching has a long & rich history.
The iconic stitching on the back pockets of Levi’s® jeans is
called the Arcuate Design because of its arc formation. One of
the most globally recognizable design details on a pair of Levi’s®
jeans, the Arcuate Design was used on Levi's earliest waist overalls.
The pants had been called waist overalls prior to becoming their blue
jeans that were patented in 1873.
In 1873, Levi Strauss & Jacob Davis are granted a
patent on the process of riveting pants by the U.S. Patent and Trademark
Office on May 20. It is patent number 139,121 and this is the invention
of the blue jean. The pants - called “waist overalls" - have one back
pocket with the Arcuate stitching design, a watch
pocket, a cinch, suspender buttons and a rivet in the crotch.
Unfortunately, history has lost the actual reason for the origin of the
Arcuate stitching design. Stories about it representing the wingspread
of a bird are myths; the loss of company records in 1906, due to San
Francisco earthquake and fires, makes it impossible to know why the
stitching was first used.
World War II forces changes to the Arcuate stitch
design. Changes are made to the overalls in order to conform to
rules War II set by the War Production Board for the conservation of raw
materials. The crotch rivet, watch pocket rivets and back cinch are
removed to save fabric and metal. The Arcuate stitching design
is removed as the thread is decorative only and not vital to
the usefulness of the garment. In order to keep the design on the pants,
LS&CO. sewing machine operators paint it on each pair.
During World War II the U.S. government told the company that it
could not stitch its “Arcuate" back pocket design on the 501® jeans,
because it was decorative and not a functional use of thread, an
essential item for the war effort. So, LS&CO. painted the Arcuate
stitching on the pockets of the 501® (men’s) and 701® (women’s)
jeans “For The Duration" of the war.
Above Image Courtesy of Levi's.
This marketing item was used to help explain the Ware Production Board
General Limitation Order No. L181 and its effect on the jeans.
In 1943, the Arcuate stitching design is registered
as a trademark.
The post-war version of the 501® jeans starts coming off the
line. The cinch is gone forever, the rivets are put back on the watch
pocket and the Arcuate is now stitched with a double-needle machine
which gives it the “diamond" shape at the point where the two lines
of stitching meet. This creates the uniform look of the Arcuate, which
is in contrast to previous years, when the single needle application
gave each Arcuate design a unique appearance, depending on the skill
of the operator.
The Batwing logo, which mirrors the Arcuate Design stitching on the
pockets of Levi’s® jeans, has become synonymous with Levi’s®
authenticity and quality.