Back in the unfashionable recesses of human history, before trousers we wore togas, wraps and loin clothes of various sorts to cover our lower halves. These would eventually evolved into the earliest pants thought to have originated in Central Asia some 3000 years ago.
Welcome to the Green Tailor’s Blog, where I discuss everything from this season’s worst trends to how fashion will save us from global warming. In this post I vent about
The Trouser’s Crotch and its Various Tendencies
The oldest known pair of pants dates to around 3000 years ago, and was constructed from three separate pieces. The pants had a sturdy crotch section joining the two legs. It’s thought that the pants were invented to accommodate horse riding by Central Asian pastoralists and warriors, and from there spread west to Europe. Although it’s always difficult to track the history of garments due to their relatively fast decomposition, these three-piece trousers pictured above are the earliest known sample of such a garment.
Today trousers are made (without boring you with too much detail) from 2 sets of mirrored pieces. Two for the back (right and left) and two for the front (right and left).
How and when we went from a three (or more) piece pattern to a two-piece is not clear, but (along with a great deal of the modern man’s wardrobe) the Napoleonic wars were instrumental in systematizing the technology of both garment construction and numeric sizing.
As fascinating as all of this is, the more pressing reason I bring it up is that the technology of trousers right now is a f*cking disaster! The ‘J’ seam, which shapes your crotch, is one of the worst thought-out garment technologies ever in the history of fashion!!
I’ll limit my rant to two main problems with the J seam
Gripe # 1 : It doesn’t accommodate the natural movement of your legs.
It’s not just the J seam at fault here, but really the whole back panel of your trousers. The pattern uses a single (essentially flat) piece of fabric from your waist, over your bum, and down your leg. Personally I’ve never seen this section of a human’s body look anything nearly flat! But more importantly this portion (especially from the bottom of the waist to mid thigh) is the part of our leg that moves the most, requiring the most about of give in the garment.
First we don’t include any possibility of natural movement for your leg, then we put a seam down the middle of your inner leg, exactly where the tension is the greatest. Honestly I couldn’t count the number of rips I’ve mended in men’s groins, and it’s mainly because of how the pants are put together.
Lastly, because mass production must keep the crotch of the pants below your personal belongings, the x-intersection at the base of the crotch is often required to handle even more tension that can really be expected of any garment. Though some pants address this with super strong stitching, or adding a gusset, or both…Really there’s no way around the fact that the J seam is an absolute disaster!
Gripe # 2: Alterations are a f*cking b*itch
With the modern free-for-all in size metrics, and designers too lazy to properly grade their garments, you’re pretty much guaranteed a low crotch if you buy off-the-peg.
This not only looks terrible (saggy bum will NEVER be in fashion!! Put it on my tombstone!!), but it also puts extra strain on your x-intersection as mentioned above. Meaning that if you’re not calling me to fix your torn crotch, you’re coming to get your pants altered because it looks like you’re wearing a full nappy.
And let me tell you this is alteration is a bloodly nightmare!
Because the shape of the pattern is cut at a certain depth, it’s impossible to move the crotch higher as you cannot add fabric to the panel.
Buuuuut of course, as with everything in life, there are ways and seams!! And as many of my clients will confirm their trouser seats have gone from disastrous to fabulous for a very reasonable sum ;)
I’m busy altering these pants for Antonio at the moment to prove the point, watch this space!!
Thank you for reading this post Peeps, I really just needed to vent about how primitive some garment technology is and how desperately I want to update it.
I’ve made the greatest freaking sample of a new method of making trousers that’ll save men from saggy bums and ripped crotches forever!! But until I can pass on the daily work of sorting our your hems to someone that doesn’t need micro-management, I’ll be continuing my humanitarian services in that arena :)