Native Americans added fringe to their jackets to repel rainwater that might have otherwise penetrated the material through the seams. Buckskins, or the hides of deer, were also used historically to make pants, chaps and other garments for warmth and protection.
Fringe was added to buckskin garments to close the spaces between seams. When exposed to the elements, buckskin wearers did not have to worry about soaking the clothes underneath their jackets. In later years, fringe became a fashionable way to add decoration to different types of garments. For example, the "flappers" of the 1920s wore dresses with fringe extending from the hems.