So I was reading Norman Davies: The Isles: A History. This is about the history of Great Britain and Ireland (and all the previous names for these islands). Very interesting read.
He talks about how ancient man navigated by the sun and stars, with many peoples taking their bearings from where the sun rises - East. So facing East, this becomes 'front', West is 'behind, South is 'right' and North is 'left'. He also mentions that East being sunrise and West as sunset, south becomes midday and north midnight.
So taking these thoughts from his book, I then made the plausible connection between light, day, sunshine and the right-hand, whilst left-hand goes with darkness and the night. Aha, just as religion co-opted certain festivals and rituals from ancient cultures, so too the association between left-handed and darkness.
Fantastic, until I then thought about the southern hemisphere, where the sun still rises in the East, but day is North, not south, so left-handedness would be associated with light and day...
Oh well, back to thinking about left-handed products...
So there were all these people in California prospecting for gold in the 1800s. It was hard hard work. The clothes they wore were just not strong enough to take the pounding.The stitching just fell apart.
So Jacob Youphes a native of Riga, immigrated to the U.S. in 1854, ending up in Reno in 1868 with a tailor's business under the name of Jacob Davis.
In 1871, Jacob Davis was approached to make a pair of men's trousers, with the brief to make them as strong as possible. Using white duck cloth purchased from the small merchants business Levi Strauss & Co. he came across the idea to also use copper rivets to fasten the pockets together. Soon, the demand for his strong pants grew amongst the miners, so he turned to the merchant Levi Strauss to go into business with him.
The 501 was born.
I love Levi's jeans. The quality of the jeans are incredible. I worked for the company for 4 years, and still wear the product.
One of the iconic design features is the watch pocket. This is the little pocket on the front right side of the jeans which the prospectors would put their pocket watch. These days, it is more than likely used for change or condoms...
Slight problem though. Being a right hand pocket, it is tricky for us left-handers to use it at all.
Clearly Jacob Davis must have been right-handed along with all the gold prospectors.
I passed my driving test in the UK.The first car I had was a right hand drive car. However, I lived in Barcelona for three years back in the early 90s and drove an old left-hand drive Beetle whilst there. I also lived in Brussels for a few years, and again drove a left-hand drive car.
So I have switched from right to left for some time now, and can safely say that from a comfort perspective, a left-hand drive car just feels more intuitive. It feels more comfortable to drive. Maybe it allows you to rest your left arm on the window frame as you enjoy the warm breeze of the...hold on...this is London we are talking about. On the other hand, in a RHdrive car, the volume button for the stereo is on the left, so swings and roundabouts really.
Anyway, better for all of us if we use bicycles instead.
So you buy a suit. Nice details, good colour, arms not too long, strides not too tight, looking good.
You wear it for the first time. You head for the door and pick up some loose change. You open up the jacket and pop it into the inside pocket of the jacket. Hold on. The little pocket is on the inside left of the jacket, a design feature that is constructed for the RH.
Oh well, I better put my oyster card in the back pocket of my trousers. What? the back pocket is on the right? How come? Oh yes, of course...designed for a RH.
So there is such a thing as a RH suit!
Let's check the others in the shop...yep...all right-handed!
Two outcomes: - Get your own suits made. A luxury I know, but a wonderful tailor will create a suit that a left-hander - Put up with a right-handed one. - Demand a change.
The business opportunity for suit-makers: Get making left-handed suits instead another 100 right-handed suits. 8% of customers might be drawn to something that provides practical value as well as a talking point with right-handers.
Suit jacket in the picture was made in Mumbai. Note the left-handers change pocket!
So there are products that lefthandcitizens immediately see as beneficial, and some where a little time is needed to gain the benefits.
I got a left-handed wallet recently. I just wasn't sure where the benefit was going to be.
The immediate difference that I found was two-fold:
First, the opening fastener opens from right to left and not from left to right.
Then the credit card holder is on the right hand side of the wallet, not on the left hand side (as found on right handed wallets).
So, is it useful? Well, some might find that after using a right-handed wallet for so long, that the value is minimal. To test this, I switched back to my right-handed wallet for a while. Pulling out the credit cards from the LH side no longer felt intuitively right. It no longer felt what comes naturally. That is when I realised that liked my LH wallet a lot.
The downside is the minimal choice of LH wallets around.
So here is a thing. Wallet makers have a target market of 8% of the population that they do not cater for. This community of potential buyers is not a fad, it is not a fashion thing. At a time where business is tough, does it not make good business sense to ignore a consumer community that are presently ignored.
Rather than generate the 100th design of a RH wallet, why not invest in a handful of LH ones and promote the fact?