History: Levi Strauss

History: Levi Strauss

Levi Strauss (play /ˌliːvaɪ ˈstrɔːs/, born Löb Strauß, German pronunciation: [løːb ˈʃtʁaʊs]; February 26, 1829 – September 26, 1902) was a German-Jewish immigrant to the United States who founded the first company to manufacture blue jeans. His firm, Levi Strauss & Co., began in 1853 in San Francisco, California.

Levi Strauss was born in Buttenheim, in the Franconian region of Bavaria, Germany, to a Jewish family. He was the son of Hirsch Strauss and his wife Rebecca (Haass) Strauss. At the age of 18, Strauss, his mother and two sisters sailed for the United States to join his brothers Jonas and Louis, who had begun a wholesale dry goods business in New York Citycalled J. Strauss Brother & Co.

 

The family decided to open a West Coast branch of the family dry goods business in San Francisco, which was the commercial hub of the California Gold Rush. Levi was chosen to represent the family, and after becoming an American citizen in January 1853, he then caught another steamship for San Francisco, arriving in early March 1853.

Strauss opened his dry goods wholesale business as Levi Strauss & Co. and imported fine dry goods—clothing, bedding, combs, purses, handkerchiefs—from his brothers in New York. He sold the goods to the small general stores and men’s mercantiles of California and the West. Around 1856 Levi’s sister Fanny, her husband David Stern and their infant son Jacob moved from New York to San Francisco to join the business.

In late 1872 Jacob Davis, a Reno, Nevada tailor, started making men’s work pants with metal points of strain for greater strength. He wanted to patent the process but needed a business helper, so he turned to Levi Strauss, from whom he purchased some of his fabric.[4] On May 20, 1873, Strauss and Davis received United States patent[5] for using copper rivets to strengthen the pockets of denim work pants. Levi Strauss & Co. began manufacturing the famous Levi’s brand of jeans, using fabric from the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company in Manchester, New Hampshire.

The “Arcuate”, the double arch stitching on the back pocket, is a Levi’s trademark, which the company has repeatedly defended in court. During World War II it was deemed by the US Government to be decorative only, and prohibited from being stitched into the pockets because items needed for the war effort, including thread, were being rationed. Rather than lose its trademark, the company had the Arcuate hand-painted onto the pockets.

Added on: February 1st, 2012

Category: DOCS, HISTORY

 
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