Did you know that Levi Strauss was born today in 1829? He was a businessman and one of the founders of the clothing company Levi Strauss & Co. When he was 18, he immigrated to the United States from Bavaria. His family operated a dry goods business selling textiles, clothing, and sundries (personal items like brushes, soap, and razors). During the California Gold Rush, clothing could not withstand the harsh work conditions. Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss invented a pair of trousers made from durable material that used metal rivets instead of thread to attach the corners of high-stress areas such as pockets. These pants were extremely popular with workmen and evolved into the blue jeans worn everywhere today.
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Initially Levi Strauss worked in his family’s New York City store called “J. Strauss Brother & Co.”. Later he moved to Louisville, Kentucky. In 1854, Levi Strauss joined his family in San Francisco where they established a commercial hub to supply the people flocking to the California Gold Rush.
Levi Strauss became an American citizen in 1853.
Jacob Davis was the tailor that initially designed the rivet-reinforced trousers. Levi Strauss’ dry goods store sold fabric to Jacob Davis. When the trousers became so popular, Davis approached Levi Strauss about applying for the patent. Davis had the knowledge and Levi Strauss had the resources to purchase the patent.
Levi Strauss was one of San Francisco’s greatest philanthropists. In addition to contributing funds to help orphans and other less-fortunate, he donated funds to the University of California, Berkley to create 28 scholarships, which still exist today.
The pants were not commonly known as ‘jeans’ until the 1960’s. Before then they were called “waist overalls”. The word ‘jean’ comes from “Gene fustian”. “Gene” comes from the Latin form of the city Genoa – Genua. Fustian Is a type of thick cotton cloth. Denim, a sturdy cotton textile, was first produced in the French city of Nimes and called serge de Nimes, hence the name ‘denim’ (de nimes).