Factory Pants Was Bell-bottom Headquarters in the 1970's

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - by Harmon Jolley
Factory Pants East Ridge, as pictured in 1973 Brainerd High yearbook advertisement
Factory Pants East Ridge, as pictured in 1973 Brainerd High yearbook advertisement

Which of the following is NOT a style of pants that was popular in the early 1970’s?

  1. bell bottoms
  2. flares
  3. hip huggers
  4. elephant leg
  5. Brady’s
  6. palazzo
  7. button fly
  8. high-waisted
  9. hot

If you selected #5, then right you are.   However, choice #5 might remind you that you can see a lot of 1970’s fashions on reruns of “The Brady Bunch.”  We’ve recently been watching season 5 via a DVD rental company, mainly to watch the Cousin Oliver episodes. 

Those 1970’s styles will always remind me of my junior high and high school years.  Back then, the Factory Pants stores kept all area youths supplied with 1970’s fashions.

Factory Pants was first listed in the 1970 Chattanooga city directory.  The first store was located at 4302 Ringgold Road.  Ben H. Cohen was listed as president, and continued with the enterprise through subsequent directories.

The layout of the stores was a departure from the trend at the time - new shopping malls with expensively-decorated stores.  Factory Pants tended to use space in older storefronts.  The business later expanded to other locations including 3643 Hixson Pike (1972), 4423 Highway 58 (1974), and 161 LaFayette Road (1977).

The fashion of the early 1970’s included lots of plaids, stripes, and bright colors.  It was common for guys to wear jeans that were bright red or yellow; sometimes generating comments like “Did you stop any traffic on the way to school?”

 A new style of belts went along with the new pants.  It was common for belts to be white or blue suede, often with metal studs or lacing and big buckles.  Wide leather belts were also popular.

Common materials included corduroy and denim, especially pre-washed denim.

Shoes with stacked high heels were worn by both guys and girls, especially with bell-bottoms and flares.  A common saying was, "If they can see your shoes, then your pants are too short."

The owner was interviewed in the October 28, 1970 Chattanooga Times.  Mr. Cohen mentioned that Factory Pants was expanding into some college towns such as Boulder, CO.  He already owned an interest in the Knoxville Bottom Half store, a business similar to that of Factory Pants.  Bottom Half was also part of the early line-up of stores at Northgate Mall.

In looking through old city directories, I was surprised to learn that Factory Pants continued into the early 1990’s.  Since I shopped only at the Hixson Pike store that closed around 1978, I missed out on other locations.

Those were the days.  However, fashions have a way of coming around again, just like other history, so we’ll have to keep a lookout for the early 1970’s look. 

If you have memories of Factory Pants, or followed Cousin Oliver on “The Brady Bunch,” please send me an e-mail at jolleyh@bellsouth.net.  Also, I'm always interested in your ideas for Memories articles.

Factory Pants Hixson, as pictured in 1972 Hixson High yearbook advertisement
Factory Pants Hixson, as pictured in 1972 Hixson High yearbook advertisement

Tri-state (TN-GA-AL) Rail Stops - Orme Branch Railroad, Chattanooga Traction Company

ORME BRANCH RAILROAD, 1904   The Orme Branch Railroad (OB) was built by the Campbell Coke and Coal Company in 1904 as the Doran’s Cove Branch Railroad (DCB), primarily to send its coal and coke from its mines at Orme, opened in 1902, to market along a more efficient route than the mountain roads it had been using.   The Battle Creek Coal and Coke Company bought ... (click for more)

Chester Martin Remembers St. Elmo

I am (highly) qualified to make the brash pronouncement that St. Elmo (Chattanooga's first suburb) is as much a state of mind as it is an actual place. It is a place that gets into your mind and into your blood, and sometimes under your skin - indelibly. I have witnessed the same phenomenon in distant cities, but I do not think it is so strong an emotion there as it is here ... (click for more)

Howard Simmons, 47, Shot And Killed In St. Elmo Monday Morning; Police Interview Person Of Interest

Howard Simmons, 47, was shot and killed in St. Elmo Monday morning. Police said they had interviewed a person of interest in the slaying. Chattanooga Police at 8:30 a.m. responded to a person shot at the 5000 block of Florida Ave. Upon police arrival the victim, Simmons, had already succumbed to his injuries. Ms. Simmons suffered at least one gunshot wound. At this time ... (click for more)

Erlanger To Open Cancer Center On Gunbarrel Road At East Campus

Work is set to begin soon on construction of a new Cancer Center by Erlanger Health System at its Gunbarrel Road East Campus. Erlanger is joining with a development firm, Chatt East 3 LLC of Alabama, on the four-story project located just south of Women's East Hospital on a wooded five-acre tract. Erlanger will be leasing the bottom three floors at a rate of $16.05 per square ... (click for more)

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Picture a sold-out baseball game at Wrigley Field or Nationals Park packed with 40,000 fans. That image represents roughly the same number of women and men who die from breast cancer each year.  In Tennessee alone, an estimated 900 women will die from the disease in 2016. It is a sad statistic, but there is some good news: thanks to early detection and improved treatments, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Testerman Forum

I badly misjudged how long it would take me to do my “early voting.” I was in-and-out in no time so I got to the Hamilton County School Board’s agenda meeting well enough beforehand to have an “educational forum” with board member David Testerman. If you haven’t noticed, forums and summits and “community enlightenment” groups are the new rage and, as my friend David laughed, “They ... (click for more)