Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Levi Strauss

Levi Strauss

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Levi Strauss'
Start a new discussion about 'Levi Strauss'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Levi Strauss was a German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

-Jewish immigrant to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 who founded the first company to manufacture blue jeans
Blue Jeans
"Blue Jeans" is a sentimental popular song written by Harry D. Kerr and Lou Traveller in 1920. In the song, the singer is reminiscing about a long-ago young love that happened somewhere in the "hills of the old Cumberland." The chorus echoes the singer's longing:* The Parlor Songs Collection.* by...

. His firm, Levi Strauss & Co.
Levi Strauss & Co.
Levi Strauss & Co. is a privately held American clothing company known worldwide for its Levi's brand of denim jeans. It was founded in 1853 when Levi Strauss came from Buttenheim, Franconia, to San Francisco, California to open a west coast branch of his brothers' New York dry goods business...

, began in 1853 in San Francisco, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

.

Origins


Levi Strauss was born in Buttenheim
Buttenheim
Buttenheim is a market town in the Upper Franconian district of Bamberg and lies in the Regnitz Valley between Bamberg and Nuremberg.Buttenheim is Levi Strauss’s birthplace; the future inventor of blue jeans emigrated from here to the United States in 1847....

, in the Franconian region of Bavaria
Kingdom of Bavaria
The Kingdom of Bavaria was a German state that existed from 1806 to 1918. The Bavarian Elector Maximilian IV Joseph of the House of Wittelsbach became the first King of Bavaria in 1806 as Maximilian I Joseph. The monarchy would remain held by the Wittelsbachs until the kingdom's dissolution in 1918...

, Germany
German Confederation
The German Confederation was the loose association of Central European states created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 to coordinate the economies of separate German-speaking countries. It acted as a buffer between the powerful states of Austria and Prussia...

, 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
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 to join his brothers Jonas and Louis, who had begun a wholesale dry goods business in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 called J. Strauss Brother & Co.

Business career


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
California Gold Rush
The California Gold Rush began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California. The first to hear confirmed information of the gold rush were the people in Oregon, the Sandwich Islands , and Latin America, who were the first to start flocking to...

. 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
Wholesale
Wholesaling, jobbing, or distributing is defined as the sale of goods or merchandise to retailers, to industrial, commercial, institutional, or other professional business users, or to other wholesalers and related subordinated services...

 business as Levi Strauss & Co.
Levi Strauss & Co.
Levi Strauss & Co. is a privately held American clothing company known worldwide for its Levi's brand of denim jeans. It was founded in 1853 when Levi Strauss came from Buttenheim, Franconia, to San Francisco, California to open a west coast branch of his brothers' New York dry goods business...

 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.

Levi's Jeans



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.
On May 20, 1873, Strauss and Davis received United States patent
United States Patent and Trademark Office
The United States Patent and Trademark Office is an agency in the United States Department of Commerce that issues patents to inventors and businesses for their inventions, and trademark registration for product and intellectual property identification.The USPTO is based in Alexandria, Virginia,...

 for using copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 rivets to strengthen the pockets of denim
Denim
Denim is a rugged cotton twill textile, in which the weft passes under two or more warp threads. This produces the familiar diagonal ribbing identifiable on the reverse of the fabric, which distinguishes denim from cotton duck. Denim has been in American usage since the late 18th century...

 work pants. Levi Strauss & Co. began manufacturing the famous Levi's brand of jeans
Jeans
Jeans are trousers made from denim. Some of the earliest American blue jeans were made by Jacob Davis, Calvin Rogers, and Levi Strauss in 1873. Starting in the 1950s, jeans, originally designed for cowboys, became popular among teenagers. Historic brands include Levi's, Lee, and Wrangler...

, using fabric from the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company
Amoskeag Manufacturing Company
The Amoskeag Manufacturing Company was a textile manufacturer which founded Manchester, New Hampshire. From modest beginnings in near wilderness, it grew throughout the 19th century into the largest cotton textile plant in the world. At its peak, Amoskeag was unrivaled both for the quality and...

 in Manchester, New Hampshire
Manchester, New Hampshire
Manchester is the largest city in the U.S. state of New Hampshire, the tenth largest city in New England, and the largest city in northern New England, an area comprising the states of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. It is in Hillsborough County along the banks of the Merrimack River, which...

.

The "Arcuate", the double arch stitching on the back pocket, is a Levi's trademark
Trademark
A trademark, trade mark, or trade-mark is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization, or other legal entity to identify that the products or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source, and to distinguish its products or...

, which the company has repeatedly defended in court. During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 it was deemed by the US Government to be decorative only, so the Arcuate was hand-painted onto the pockets.

Death


Levi Strauss died on September 26, 1902 at the age of 73. He never married, so he left the business to his four nephews, Jacob, Sigmund, Louis, and Abraham Stern, the sons of his sister Fanny and her husband David Stern. He also left bequests to a number of charities such as the Pacific Hebrew Orphan Asylum and the Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum. Levi's fortune was estimated to be around 6 million dollars. He was buried in Colma, California
Colma, California
Colma is a small incorporated town in San Mateo County, California, at the northern end of the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area. The population was 1,792 at the 2010 census. The town was founded as a necropolis in 1924....

.

Legacy


A Levi Strauss museum is maintained in Buttenheim
Buttenheim
Buttenheim is a market town in the Upper Franconian district of Bamberg and lies in the Regnitz Valley between Bamberg and Nuremberg.Buttenheim is Levi Strauss’s birthplace; the future inventor of blue jeans emigrated from here to the United States in 1847....

, Germany, located in the 1687 house where Strauss was born. There is also a Visitors Center at Levi Strauss & Co. world headquarters in San Francisco, which features a number of historical exhibits.

External links