It is fairly safe to assume that most everyone who wears jeans knows about the Levi Strauss Co. or more commonly called Levi’s but not everyone knows that much about the founder of that company, Levi Strauss. Mr. Strauss had been born in Buttenheim, Bavaria in 1829. He migrated to the Unites States and became a US citizen in 1853. Mr. Strauss was a tailor by profession, and when the Gold Rush occurred in California, he followed the thousands of men that made the cross country journey because he saw an opportunity to use his skills as a tailor to make clothes and also tents.
He was correct in his choice because as the miners found their normal clothing inadequate to accommodate the rough wear and tear of their work, Levi designed overalls out of sail canvas and stitched them tightly to maintain the nuggets, tools or ore samples the miners carried in their pockets. Mr. Strauss had brought several rolls of sail clothe with him but when it ran out, he chose to use a material from France named “serge” made in Nimes. This was the early forerunner of denim which almost all Levi Strauss Co’s products are made of. In 1870, Mr. Strauss received a proposal from a fellow tailor, Jacob Davis, to help finance a patent on using metal rivets at the corner sections of pockets where they were the most likely to rip. The patent was granted and these “rivets” have become a trademark symbol of Levi blue jeans.
Levi jeans have moved forward the years to become a household name. Levi Strauss also had many other qualities that are little known such as: “What people might not know is that Levi Strauss was a philanthropist who in 1897 donated 28 scholarships at the University of California in Berkeley. (These scholarships still exist.) Mr. Strauss died in 1902, but his nephews continued the company.” (Szadkowski, 1998, p. 6) Levi Strauss is considered one of our great American success stories because he proved that ingenuity and foresight could create products that were useful as well as accomplish the Great American Dream.
- Szadkowski, J.(1998, May 5). Levi Strauss Stresses Youth ‘Cool’ and History. The Washington Times, p. 6.