The History of Suspenders - From Suspender Clips to HIKERS®

The Struggle to Keep Our Pants Up is Nothing New

Holding up our pants is an age-old problem, and suspenders, belts and various other contraptions have been competing for our preference since humans started wearing pants. 

The Invention of Suspenders

Suspenders for men first hit the fashion scene in the 1700s in France, and like HIKERS™, they were originally made to be worn as an undergarment. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1930s that men started pushing the norm and wearing them over their shirts. 

The first-known French suspenders were merely ribbons tied to buttonholes, but what most of us think of as modern suspenders were first created from boxcloth (a tightly-woven wool) in the 1830s by British fashion designer, Albert Thurston. Men’s fashion of the day called for extremely high-waisted pants that couldn’t be held up by a belt. So Mr. Thurston created an H-back design that attached with leather loops, and later modified them to feature both the commonly found X- and Y-back designs. You can still buy the original boxcloth braces design today.

Improving the Design with Suspender Clips

Forty years later, an American by the name Mark Twain (aka Samuel Clemens) complained that suspenders were uncomfortable and applied for a patent for his invention, “Adjustable and Detachable Straps for Garments." This new contraption attached to everything from underpants to corsets and was eventually modified with metal suspender clips so as not to require buttons to attach. 

Doctors Began Recommending Suspenders

Doctors have been professing the health benefits of suspenders for almost a century. In 1928 a Chicago doctor named Dr. V. S. Cheney said, “There are more big stomachs caused by the wearing of a belt than any other one thing I know of," urging people instead to practice "posture, exercise and the wearing of suspenders." Learn more about the health benefits of suspenders.

Suspenders Fall In and Out of Fashion

By the early 20th century, suspenders fell out of fashion as men’s pants started riding lower and belts took over. However over the years popular actors, such as Humphrey Bogart, iconic movie characters, like Alex Delarge (A Clockwork Orange), Gordon Gecko (Wall Street), Annie Hall, and Steve Urkel (Family Matters), kept the look alive in popular culture. And hip hop stars and modern-day hipsters have continued to popularize the formal wear style suspenders.

Many men have come to associate suspenders with dressing up for corporate jobs or formal occasions and don’t consider them as an everyday item. Or, they think only grandpas, poseurs, or nerds would ever wear them.

Belts Are More Popular than Suspenders

Most people consider belts to be the most convenient way to keep your pants up, and they are certainly more popular than suspenders. Almost all pants and shorts come with belt loops, making them an almost required fashion accessory, particularly if you want to wear your shirt tucked in. Many men wouldn't be caught dead without their shirt tucked in and a belt around their waist.

Belts Don’t Work for Everyone

For a great many people, belts either don’t work or they are downright unhealthy. If you’re someone with no butt or hips, belts don’t have anything to rest on and you’re forced to cinch it too tightly. Or maybe you need to carry heavy things in your pockets or around your waist—belts don’t work very well in those instances either. There are so many reasons belts don’t work.

Plus, tight belts (and pants for that matter) act as a tourniquet around your waist and can cause all sorts of health problems. 

Modern Undergarment Suspenders Are Bulky

As people struggled with keeping their pants up without a belt, inventors developed ways to hide suspenders under clothes. These undergarment suspenders were designed to remain hidden, at all costs. Let’s face it, most of them are pretty ugly. Even though they’re intended to be invisible, because of their bulk, you can often easily make out the ace-bandage style straps and bulky clips and metal adjusters. Unlike with women who are accustomed to wearing bras that are often visible under their clothes, most men don’t want anyone to know they’re wearing an undergarment. Heck, they don’t even like the word undergarment.

And Now There’s HIKERS®

Many people would benefit from wearing suspenders, but suspenders probably aren’t even on their radar because we think of them as old fashioned or too formal. The struggle to keep our pants up, without compromising our fashion sense, is real.

HIKERS® are the innovative new suspenders made to be worn with jeans or shorts, under or over your shirt. For everyday wear, HIKERS® are the blue jeans of suspenders, made for casual people who want to look good and be comfortable.