Quick Fact on Fringe.. Practical or Fashion Statement?

By: John Turner.

In times not so long ago, fashion statements in clothing were the exclusive province of the wealthy, the well heeled, the aristocratic breed if you will. For us mere peasants the idea of clothing was more utilitarian where the popular “form follows function” statement was the obvious choice.

Here is one example of that principle that may be somewhat lost in the fashion statement of today’s motorcycle rider. There are quite a few very nicely constructed leather jackets for men and women with fringe adorning the arms and in some cases the front and the backs.

Now for us this is a fashion statement. Our leathers are usually made from some sort of cow hide or pigs hide or something of that type because these are herd animals for which everything except the “moo” or the “oink” is used for some product.

I call this my “Paul Harvey” moment. Because here is the rest of the story!

Our ancestors, especially the American Indians and our 19th century cowboys had leathers too. Most of their leathers were made of deerskin however. That fringe we see as decoration for us today was far more practical for the Native American or cowboy caught out in the elements. Because of the absorption characteristics of tanned deerskin the water will soak into the hide, but the fringe was placed on the arms, the front and the back to quickly wick the water away from the body and drip off thereby keeping the core body temperature from dropping. Since nothing will chill the body faster than wet and cold.

Some of you already knew this. But I bet for most this is one of those tidbits of knowledge that will make you say “those folks back then had to deal with some pretty rough times, so I guess they figured things out the way a human being is capable of doing”.