This note accompanies the follow episode(s):
The Writer’s Almanac for March 11, 2017: Things to Think

Mar. 11, 2017: on this day: Levi-Strauss begins selling bell-bottomed jeans

On this day in 1969, Levi-Strauss began selling bell-bottomed jeans. In the 1960s, young women began ripping the outside seams on the legs of their jeans and sewing on additional triangles of fabric in bright colors to create a flared leg. The style quickly became popular, as many young people were looking for funky, offbeat, casual clothing, and they could buy jeans cheaply at thrift and military surplus stores. Flared pants weren’t new, though: flared legs had been around since the 17th century. They were especially popular with sailors because they could easily roll up the wide legs when mopping wet decks. If a sailor fell overboard, the pants could be pulled over his boots, inflating with air and buoying him. Most clothing manufacturers in the ’60s were hesitant to jump on the trend because bell-bottoms were associated with radicals, rebellion, and marijuana use, but not Levi-Strauss.