The History of Jorts


Jorts: The summer solution when it’s too hot for jeans but you just can’t bear to ditch your denim.

Where did these iconic style statements come from? Who can we thank for this life-altering innovation in men’s apparel?

Come on a journey with us as we uncover the history of jorts, as recorded by our imagination and Google image searches.

 

200 B. D. (Before Denim): A Farming Incident

According to the book of Jeanesis, it all began with a man named Orte. Orte was a Midwest farmer before the denim era when apparel couldn’t keep up with a farmer’s needs. At this time, farmers were wearing long pants made out of thick, itchy burlap. On one particularly hot day, Orte had a stroke of jean-ius. He took off the itchy burlap pants, laid them on the field and chopped them off with his saber-tooth combine. Wala! Cut-off pants! The farming industry rejoiced.

farmers

Early sketch of Midwest farmers circa 200 B.D. (Before Denim)

 

1910: Shorts Go Mainstream

It took a while for Orte’s cut-off pants to catch on (this was pre-Facebook). But finally, in 1910, an inventor by the name of Shane discovered Orte’s cut-off pants and decided to take it upon himself to introduce the category to the mass market. After months of vigorous wear tests, Shane patented and released his product to the public on July 19, 1910, naming the product “shorts” — a combination of his own name, Shane, and Orte, the inspiration behind the creation.

Shorts 1910

Early wear tests of Shane’s shorts

 

1973: Jack of Jorts

Shane’s shorts were a hot commodity for years, but sometime in the late ’60s, the fad fizzled — everyone wanted jeans. Right as the shorts manufacturer was on the brink of bankruptcy, Jack — Shane’s great-grandson — inherited the family business. (Lucky him, right?) All signs were pointing to bankruptcy and Jack was losing hope. Then, on one particularly warm summer day, he had the same stroke of jean-ius that farmer Orte had centuries ago. He invested in denim material and began crafting his company’s product out of the coveted fabric. Society went crazy for them — Jack had single-handedly revived the shorts industry, and he became known as “Jack of Jorts.”

 

Jack of Jorts

Jack of Jorts, a well-respected figure in the jorts community
CC Image courtesy of Brandon Cripps on Flickr

 

1987: TV’s Favorite Hooligan

In 1987, a style icon was born: Bart Simpson. This mischievous little boy captured the hearts of Americans nationwide, and soon people’s closets were filled with his classic red T-shirt and jorts.

 

Bart Simpson in Jorts

Bart Simpson, a fashion icon
Photo via Simpson’s Wiki

 

Late 1990s: The Decline of Jorts

Although “The Simpson’s” was still popular as a show, Bart Simpson’s image as a fashion icon began to fade. Because the grunge trend of the late 1990s required jeans to be covered in rips and tears, the need for jorts became obsolete. Those who were still donning their denim shorts were wearing the oldest pair they owned with as many holes as possible.

 

1980s grunge - ripped denim

Do these even qualify as pants?

 

2002: John Cena Revival

WWE professional wrestler John Cena debuted his signature jorts in November of 2002, showcasing their versatility in the WWE ring and on stage during his short-lived rap career (under the stage name Doctor of Thuganomics). The jorts worked out well for him — Cena holds the record for championships.

John Cena in Jorts

John Cena dominating the ring in his signature jorts
CC image courtesy of Krystal Bogner on Flickr

Today’s Jorts Enthusiasts

An elite group of jorts enthusiasts remain today — keeping the legacies of Orte, Shane and Jack of Jorts alive. You can most commonly see them on the Fourth of July, when Americans wear this piece of apparel that’s rich in heritage with pride to celebrate the U.S. of A. If you’d like to join the jorts community, pick up a pair of these wardrobe staples at Lee.com.

Jorts enthusiasts

Jorts Athletic Club: Golden Chapter
CC image courtesy of Dave Baker on Flickr

 

 

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