Kara Sewell: Thank you, Levi! - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Kara Sewell: Thank you, Levi!


It's apparently Levi Strauss Day. Strauss was born on this day in 1829 and we’re celebrating the man who invented blue jeans.

The Bavarian immigrant created the world's first pair of jeans, Levi's 501s. Then 23-year-old Levi had headed west to San Francisco, to seek his fortune by opening a branch of the family business to sell clothing and accessories to the California Gold Rushers. In 1872, one of his clients sent Strauss a letter, describing how he used copper rivets to strengthen the stress points of the work pants that he fashioned out of fabric bought from the Californian. The client suggested that the two seek a patent for the riveting method. The rivets were fastened at the corners of the pockets and the base of the fly – a patent that was granted in 1873.

In 1890, the year the firm became incorporated, it also replaced “XX” with “501,” arguably the brand's most popular style that is still sold today. Until the 1920s, Levi’s jeans were sold mainly in the West, and served for the most part as work clothes. Soon after, they started making their way east, mainly with vacationers who had encountered them at dude ranches they had visited. In World War II, they became an item rationed to defense workers, and to conserve thread, the company was forbidden from applying the decorative double arch stitching on the rear pockets of the jeans, which had by then become something of a trademark. (They had the arches painted onto the pockets for the duration of the war.)

As for the company’s founder – Levi Strauss died on September 26, 1902. Because he had never married and did not have a family of his own, Strauss left his business and estate to his four nephews. That estate was valued at $6 million, or some $160 million in today’s terms. By 2010, Levi Strauss & Co., which had gone from being family-owned to being publicly shared, was once again a private company, controlled by relatives of Levi Strauss’ nephews. The firm employed more than 16,000 people worldwide, and raked in $4.4 billion in revenues.

What’s your favorite brand of jean?

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