A Brief History of Levi Strauss & Co.


On this day in 1829, Levi Strauss was born. 43 years later he, with the help of a tailor named Jacob Davis, would make history changing the fashion industry forever. In the 1850s, Strauss moved across the country from New York City where his family owned a wholesale dry goods store (J. Strauss Brother & Co.) to create his own dry goods store in California (Levi Strauss & Co.) to service the rapidly growing population that had moved in search of gold. Some of the items Levi Strauss & Co. sold to retailers included bolts of fabric, blankets, and tents. 

The story of the success of Levi Strauss & Co. is not the story of one man but rather of a partnership forged between men and a legacy that continues to employee tens of thousands of people around the world to this day. Strauss’s future partner, Jacob Youphes was born in 1831, He moved from Latvia to America in 1854 where he settled as a tailor and changed  his name to Jacob W. Davis. Eventually, Davis would make the move from the East Coast to the West Coast, choosing not to settle in San Francisco but rather in Reno, Nevada in 1868. 

In 1870, the wife of a labourer came into Davis’s tailor shop on Virginia Street in Reno and asked if Davis would make her husband a pair of pants that could withstand the strenuous work that he did. Davis chose to use heavyweight cotton duck twill fabric and after finishing the pants hammered rivets into the pockets and crotch to reinforce the seam points. Overtime, Davis developed a large demand from customers for these pants. Demand quickly outgrew the production Davis could handle on his own and he feared his competitors would soon begin reproducing his design. To prevent this Davis wrote a supplier of his, Levi Strauss & Co., asking if Strauss would be interested in partnering in order to gain a patent on the design and produce the pants in much larger quantities. By May 20, 1873 Davis and Strauss secured the patent and with that began production of what would become the most recognizable pants in the world, the blue jean. 

As the 1890s approached and their patent over riveted clothing was due to expire Levi Strauss & Co. worked diligently to separate themselves from their competition by creating some iconic brand indicators that are still put to use to this day. First record of the signature Levi’s arcuate dates back to 1879. Not long after in 1886, the Levi Strauss & Co. Two Horse® logo was created and during the early 1890s began being added to blue jeans alongside a guarantee ticket which in its earliest form simply stated “This is a pair of them” alongside information about the jeans. These two key brand elements helped Levi Strauss & Co. continue to grow its customer base while also guaraning consumers that what they were buying was genuine and made with outstanding quality. 

 

By the 20th century, the brand name became synonymous with blue jeans and most people would refer to any blue jeans as a pair of Levi’s®. It was in 1928 they were able to register a trademark for the name Levi’s®. Shortly after, in 1936, the most important brand icon used by Levi Strauss & Co. was put into production. The Levi’s Red Tab Device helped the company continue their promise to their customers of a genuine and quality product. Overtime, the red tab was changed to be double sided and eventually it was changed from being in all uppercase to just the L being capitalized. As mass production continued to grow from the 70s onwards Levi Strauss & Co. has continued to incorporate different colours of tabs in order to signify different styles of jeans.

 

Very few items ever ascend to the level of being considered a fashion staple. A pair of Levi’s® have done just this which is why we always make them available to our customers. Click here to see our new collection of Levi’s® added to the shop today.

If you found this interesting or if you’d like us to begin stocking books on vintage clothing like Denim Branded let us know in the comments. 

Information and images retrieved from these sources 

https://www.levistrauss.com/levis-history/

https://www.levistrauss.com/2013/03/14/the-story-of-levi-strauss/

https://www.levistrauss.com/2019/07/04/the-history-of-denim/

https://www.denimbranded.com/

https://wardrobeministry.wordpress.com/2014/05/18/levis-vintage-clothing-the-evolution-of-the-iconic-501-jeans/miners-in-levis/

https://www.firstversions.com/2015/03/levi-strauss-co-blue-jeans.html


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