Well, before we talk about why again&again does not use a single rivet in its jeans, we should probably talk about what a rivet is in the first place, and why other brands use them.
MEET THE JEAN
WHAT IS A RIVET?
A rivet is a mechanical fastener that helps add structural integrity to parts or products across industries. Typically made of metal, rivets are comprised of two components, a head and a tail that get smashed together permanently to create a seal. Common in ships, planes, and electronics, rivets help keep pieces together that are never supposed to come apart. So why did these things find their way into denim jeans?
HISTORY OF RIVETS
Back when denim jeans were invented, by a tailor named Jacob Davis and his fabric supplier, Levi Strauss, the primary use was as a work pant for miners, farmers, and laborers. Each jean was constructed from heavy, stiff denim with metal rivets at key stress points. It had buttons for suspenders in place of belt loops, a button fly, and four pockets (if you’re counting, it was three on the front and one on the back. The little coin pocket still on jeans today held pocket watches).
Jeans needed to survive the grime and dirt of countless days in the mine or the field. Rivets fastened into the pocket corners and crotch to prevent tears. Rivets were commonly made of copper, aluminum, or steel. The holes and tears that did occur were patched up as jeans tended to be passed from miner to miner, as it was an expensive item at the time.
Comfort was an afterthought to durability and protection for the laborers hard at work. Rivets scratched furniture when workers returned home and could be uncomfortable when sitting in the wrong position. So why did we remove a historic staple of jeans?
WHY DOES AGAIN&AGAIN NOT USE RIVETS?
We choose to avoid rivets for three important reasons. First, you just don’t need them. We use a bar tack stitch to create the same durability a rivet provides. You may no longer be mining or working in the fields, but your jeans should still be able to handle that labor. Make no mistake, ours do, just without rivets.
Second, we don’t want to waste resources and water on metal production. Rivets may not be large but producing and welding that metal is still not resource free. It still requires energy and water. Much more than the few extra inches of thread required for the bar tacks does. We are designing our jeans to be as wasteless as possible, and that means designing out anything unnecessary. Metal rivets fall in that category.
Rivets make the upcycling process harder by slowing down the disassembly process.
Third, and most importantly, rivets make the upcycling process harder by slowing down the disassembly process. Unsurprisingly, metal rivets cannot go through the textile recycling machinery we will use to cut up the jeans, dissolve them into a pulp, and extrude new fibers. Thus, each rivet needs to be removed from the jean individually.
While there are a few ways to remove rivets from jeans, none are easy. It takes a screwdriver, pliers, or wire cutters, and while we know our way around those tools, each method takes time. Even if it is only ten to twenty seconds per rivet, some jeans have six to eight rivets. Removing these rivets then adds one to two minutes of manual labor per jean. In our mission to be efficiently circular, that just doesn’t work. Especially when rivets are really just esthetic. You don’t need them, so we don’t include them. It’s just one way we are designing our jeans to be truly circular.