California Gold Rush
Levi Strauss in California Gold Rush
Levi Strauss (1829-1902) was a Bavarian immigrant who, during the California Gold Rush, went into business as a dry goods wholesaler on San Francisco's Market Street. In 1853, Strauss began making durable trousers for miners from heavy brown cloth. His firm later switched materials and created the first denim blue jeans in 1873, catering to working men who needed tough garments that would withstand hard manual labor (the company's slogan in 1900 was "For Men Who Toil"). Levi Strauss & Co. has since become the world's largest pants manufacturer.
All Levi's 501 jeans feature copper rivets on pocket corners. Jacob Davis, a Nevada tailor, devised this innovation around 1872, when a customer complained that her husband was wearing through his pants too quickly. Davis secured the pockets with copper rivets, a design which tailors soon emulated. He could not afford the paperwork to patent his idea, however, and the demand for riveted pockets was already outpacing his capabilities. Davis joined up with his fabric supplier, Levi Strauss, and the two jointly applied for a patent. Davis soon moved to San Francisco to oversee manufacturing of the pants, which they called Copper Riveted Waist Overalls. Today, company spokesmen claim that the denim overalls "were so popular that miners and prospectors would say, 'Have you heard about these pants coming from Levi's?' Over time, the name just stuck."