Jeans were created by Levi Strauss in the midst of the Gold Rush in 1853. Levi Strauss, a 24 year old German immigrant, traveled to San Francisco with a supply of dry goods in the hopes of opening up a branch of his brothers’ New York dried goods business. Shortly after his arrival, he realized the need of strong pants. This idea came from a prospective customer who told him about how hard it was to find pants strong enough to last.
Strauss had rough canvas, normally used for tents and wagon covers, made into waist overalls. The miners liked the pants but thought they were too rough on the skin. With this in mind, Strauss substituted the canvas for a twilled cotton cloth from France, called “serge de Nimes.” Later, this fabric became known as denim and the pants were nicknamed blue jeans.
In 1873, Levi Strauss & Co started using the pocket stitch design. He also trademarked the use of rivets to add more strength to pocket corners and designate different parts of the pant. In 1936, the company began putting a red tab on the left rear pocket to identify the Levi’s jean.
As the times changed, Levi Strauss & Co, changed their jeans to fit the needs of the wearer. They added belt loops in 1922 and in 1937 the suspender buttons were discontinued. In the 50’s, the pants were remodeled for a more tapered cut and pre-shrunk overalls were put on the market. Zippers were introduced in 1955 and became a more sportier pant. They were in high demand during World War II because they became restricted to only defense workers. Therefore, prices sky rocketed.
When western movies became popular, and stars like John Wayne and Roy Rogers were seen wearing them, jeans took on the appeal of romance and adventure. The bad-boy appeal of Marlon Brando and James Dean brought along an established uniform for baby boomers. And in 1981, the first cut for women were introduced.
The jeans introduced by Levi Strauss have been around for over 100 years and is known throughout the world. There may be other name-brand jeans out there, like Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, but the genius behind it all is Levi Strauss.