What I am thoroughly convinced is the one item every person owns, is the item I will be discussing today. The have been around since the 1800’s and have since then been tweaked and imitated in almost every way. To this day they remain an essential in every wardrobe and will always be my go-to style item…
Today we discuss the origin of our favourite jeans…
Levi Strauss Jeans
Levi Strauss, was the creator of what became the quintessential American garment and took over the world. He was born in Buttenheim, Bavaria on February 26, 1829, the youngest child of three older brothers and three older sisters. When his father died in 1846 after suffering from tuberculosis, it was two years later when Levi and his sisters immigrated to New York. They joined two of their older brothers who owned a NYC-based wholesale dry goods business called “J. Strauss Brother & Co.” where Levi soon began to learn the trade himself.
In 1853, when the new of the California Gold Rush spread, Levi took his chance and left to San Francisco. He established his own wholesale dry goods business under his own name, thus serving as the West Coast representative of the family’s New York firm. With time, Levi eventually renamed his company “Levi Strauss & Co.”
It was around 1872, when Levi received a letter from one of his customers, a Mr. Jacob Davis, who was a tailor in Reno, Nevada. The letter unveiled the unique way in which Mr Davis made pants for his customers, through the use of rivets at points of strain to make them last longer. Mr. Davis decided to contact Levi because he wanted to patent this new idea, but needed a business partner to get the idea off the ground. An enthusiastic Levi immediately took to the idea.
The patent was granted to Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss & Company on May 20, 1873; and blue jeans were born. The first pair of “jeans” were made out of denim, a fabric that was traditionally used to create men’s work wear. This date is considered to be the birth date of jeans as we know them because while the fabric had been used for years before, the act of placing rivets in these traditional pants for the first time created what we have all come to know and love – a good old pair of 501 Levi jeans.
It is noted that they were called originally called “waist overalls” or “overalls”. It was not until the 1960s, when the generation of baby boomers adopted the name “jeans.”
The birthplace of the jeans we know today came to be in 1890 — it was the year that the XX waist overall was given the lot number “501®” — Levi and his nephews who worked with him then officially incorporated it in with the company. It was heart breaking to learn that Levi Strauss passed away on Friday, September 26th 1902.
Since his death, the company has gone from strength to strength and today people always identify with Levi 501 jeans. The styles have advanced since the original birth but they stick to tradition and offer great quality that is unwavering. In recent years they have extended their range into other apparel.
Their ad campaigns have always been captivating for the times and they have a way to make you come back for more.
Below we see some of the iconic adverts and styles from Levi Strauss & Co.
Scenes from an advert discussing “How often should you wash your jeans?” in 1985.
And since then Levi’s have become the iconic jeans of choice for every generation…
Do you own a pair of Levi’s 501 Jeans?
Share your thoughts and comments below!
Thanks VB xx