We all save up useless facts for the sporadic pub quiz – a number one from 1994, a celebrity’s mundane birth name, the capital city of the Congo (Brazzaville, if you were wondering).
But useless trivia goes further than you think. Dug deep into the very threads we wear is a fountain of inane knowledge, from the origin of denim to the reasons why we button our shirt up the way we do. And while we’re unlikely to see any TV game show hold a menswear round anytime soon, it can’t hurt to brush up.
1. Adidas didn’t create the three-stripe logo
Little-known Finnish label Karhu was first to put three stripes on the side of a sneaker. Eventually, it sold the rights to Mr Adi Dassler for around 1,600 euros and two bottles of whiskey.
2. The first pair of Levi’s was sold in 1856 for approximately $6 worth of gold dust
The same as about £140 in today’s money.
3. Steve Jobs’ go-to trainer was the New Balance 991
The perfect sneaker to go with your black rollneck.
4. French cuffs aren’t actually French
A British invention, French cuffs were designed to fasten easily at the appropriate length with the excess material folded.
5. According to astronaut Chris Hadfield, there’s no need to do laundry in space
Instead, dirty clothes are tossed outside and incinerated by the Earth’s atmosphere.
6. The proper term for a tie collector is a grabologist
Not to be confused with a garbologist, someone who studies bins.
7. The first pair of Dr. Martens boots was made from tyres
Dr Klaus Märten broke his ankle skiing so he created a soft-leather padded sole from tyres as a more comfortable alternative to army boots.
8. The YKK on zips stands for ‘Yoshido Kogyo Kabushikikaisha’
Which is the biggest zip company in the world.
9. Michael Jordan’s dad was killed by a man wearing a Michael Jordan T-shirt
Quite meta. And very, very dark.
10. Men didn’t wear underwear until the 17th century
Nothing like the feel of going commando under your breeches.
11. Abercrombie & Fitch offered to pay Jersey Shore’s Mike ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino to stop wearing its clothes
Apparently all that fake tan and wet look gel can put a dent in sales.
12. Lacoste’s embroidered crocodile was one of the first designer logos
It was manufactured and patented in 1933. Have that Chanel.
13. Romans were known for wearing penis-shaped charms and phallic necklaces
Looks like Julius Caesar beat you to it, Tom Ford.
14. It was Prince Edward VII of Wales that first wore a dinner suit
His tailless blue silk smoking jacket was the first to be worn as eveningwear, and was made by Savile Row tailors Henry Poole and Co.
15. Polo players invented buttoned-down shirt collars
Trying to hook a mallet on horseback is difficult enough without a face full of shirt collar.
16. And polo shirts were first worn by tennis players, not polo players
French tennis legend Jean Rene Lacoste wore short-sleeved, pique cotton shirts as they were more breathable and comfortable.
17. Men’s and women’s clothes have buttons on opposite sides
A hangover from the days when women were dressed by servants. Having fasteners on the opposite side made it easier for them to button up garments.
18. High heels were first worn by men
Long before ladies fell in love with Louboutin, it was noblemen of the 16th century that would slide into a stacked heel. Led by the slightly height-challenged French king, Louis XIV, these were seen as a sign of wealth and status, giving us the phrase ‘well-heeled’.
19. The Mackintosh coat was created by a Scottish chemist
Charles Macintosh fused two fabrics with a liquid-rubber compound together to produce the world’s first waterproof coat in 1823.
20. The perforations on brogues were originally intended to let water escape
But wouldn’t that sort of let water in, too?
21. Gingham is of Malaysian origin
The name originates from the word genggang, which roughly translates to ‘separate’.
22. It was a trend during the Renaissance to shave off your eyebrows.
Just look at Mona Lisa. Terrifying.