Diamond Gusset

“You can’t wear those jeans! They’ve got a hole in the crotch,” I said, sticking a finger through it.

“Damn.” He unbuckled his belt to take them off.

A few weeks later, he held up another pair, pointing to a hole in the same spot. “Look at this. I’ve never had a pair of Levi’s wear out in a seam,” he said. “Now, this is two pairs in a month.”

“I don’t know why you’re wearing them out there,” I said.

“I’ve been wearing Levi’s since I was able to talk Mama into it…back in 1959. I wanted a pair so bad, but she took the position that ‘nice boys don’t wear blue jeans.'”

“What?”

“Well, back then, in small-town, West Tennessee, the only boys who wore jeans hung out at the pool hall and wore those tight-fitting things. Mama figured I’d end up being a hoodlum like them, with a pack o’ cigarettes rolled up in my T-shirt sleeve.”

I asked him how he weaseled a pair out of her.

“There was only one store in town that carried Levi’s — Scoggins. I’d go in there time and again and try ’em on and ask questions. Back then, jeans’d shrink two inches in the waist and length after they were washed. You had to guess at what size to buy. Finally, I took a pair home. Bought ’em with money from my Saturday job at Carter’s Basement [Dixie Carter’s father’s store]. Mama pitched a fit, but she let me keep them — mainly because I’d already washed them and couldn’t take them back.”

He gave his holy Levi’s a shake. “I bet they’re made in China,” he said, rummaging for the label. “No. Columbia.” He groped for others and checked labels. Dominican Republic. Egypt.

“Figures,” I said. “The world is flat, there’s no quality any more, no pride in a job well done, and nothing much is made in America.”

“I heard on sports radio about a small company right here in Tennessee that makes jeans. It’s called Diamond Gusset. I think I’m gonna order a pair.”

Diamond Gusset jeans have a diamond-shaped piece of material sewn into the crotch of the jean, providing ease of movement, comfort, and strength. Diamond Gusset jeans are 100% Made In U. S. A. The denim is from Georgia, the buttons and burrs from Kentucky and Tennessee, thread from Nashville, hang tags and labels from Tennessee, pocketing from Mississippi, and the leatherette patch from Atlanta. They’re sewn together in the Georgia mountains. All-Southern jeans! All-American jeans! And the home office is in my hometown of Franklin, Tennessee.

Turns out the man who founded the company twenty years ago worked for Levi’s, according to a 10-26-2007 article in the Nashville Business Journal. He was impressed with his cousin’s martial arts uniform that had a gusseted crotch. The two of them “thought it might be nice to have that design in a pair of jeans.”

“Order a pair!” I said.

“There’s a factory outlet in Bon Aqua. Think I might just go over there and check it out.”

I opened my gazetteer and looked up the little burg. Highway 100, west from Fairview, right on 46.

“Go for it! We’ve all got to start buying American whenever we can. Otherwise, all we’ll ever have is cheap, unsafe, poorly constructed manufactured goods coming from all over the globe. Mostly from China.”

Turns out that’s a problem, too. Clothes shipped for long distances, especially from China and other Asian companies, contain high levels of formaldehyde. Formaldehyde — allegedly recorded at nearly 900 times a reasonable safe level. Many items now carry a Wash Before Wearing tag. That’s why. Besides, China is going to get mad at us one of these days and cut us off. Then we’ll really be in a pickle!

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