Levi Strauss Birth Anniversary: 8 Lesser Known Facts About the Pioneer of Jeans
Levi Strauss built a fashion empire. A brand which transcended from being clothing for miners and convicts to becoming a fashion staple popularized by the likes of Marlon Brando and James Dean.
Levi Strauss and Co
The man behind the first company to manufacture blue jeans, Levi Strauss was born on February 26, 1829, in Germany. Levi belonged to a Jewish family and immigrated to America at the age of 18 to join his brother’s business that specialized in dry goods. Levi moved to San Francisco a few years later with a vision to have his own fine dry goods business which produced items like blankets, boots, and combs, etc.
Levi’s undertaking was a wholesale store that went on to craft one of the most durable and popular articles of apparel ever produced--the blue jeans. What started as heavy-duty work pants or workwear, then identified as overalls for its tenacity during the 1870s, later went on to be known as jeans.
Levi built a fashion empire, a brand which transcended from being clothing for miners and convicts to becoming a fashion staple popularized by the likes of Marlon Brando and James Dean.
Here are some of the lesser known facts about the visionary.
- Jacob Davis, a tailor from Nevada wrote to Levi in 1872, seeking help. He had scored fabric from Levi for his own business and had come up with a unique way to produce rather durable pants. Davis asked Strauss to pay the fee as the former was unable to cover the cost himself and as a result, the first blue jeans was born. The two patented the new style of work pants in 1873.
- In 1926, Levi Strauss & Co. apparently gave the first bonuses in clothing history. Levi was close to his workers and even insisted they call him Levi.
- Belt loops did not exist on Levi's until 1922. Instead, cinches and suspenders were used to prevent wardrobe malfunction. The zipper fly made its debut only in 1954 which wasn’t received well in the beginning.
- During WWII, Levi Strauss & Co. underlined— the double-stitched arc on the back pocket — to save thread. Levi's had to exclude some rivets, cinch, and the characteristic arcuate as resources were limited due to war rationing.
- One of Levi’s most prominent symbols found at the back of each pair is the two horses pulling patch. The leather tag was placed onto the denim in 1886 to represent strength and quality of the garment. However, the leather was discontinued for being pricey and was later substituted with a heavy duty card stock.
- Levi never had a retail store as the brand’s forte was wholesale supply. A huge warehouse on the San Francisco waterfront was raised to cater to the retail clients. To date, Levi Strauss & Co. headquarters (Levi’s Plaza) is located near the city’s prominent waterside.
- Levi himself never wore a pair of jeans of his label. During its initial years, the brand was meant to produce clothes for laborers so it carried a customary dogma. Also successful businesspersons, such as Levi did not wear jeans and were usually dressed in quintessential dark suits and white shirts.
- The humble denim, got its earliest fame after James Dean rocked a pair in Rebel Without a Cause, who was then considered ‘a rising star and a sweltering property’. Since then the denim jeans became wildly sought-after and immensely popular.
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