08 July 2016 18:00:00
Levi’s: a single thread from everyone
We talk about two emigrants having reversed people’s concept of outerwear
Jeans are an essential part of any person’s wardrobe. They have given birth to a whole culture, taken stand in the business casual line, and have long become a part of the world heritage. Major fashion houses designers release them, while some of those houses appeared specializing in the manufacture of jeans. However, the one who invented and popularized the unique serge trousers has stood the test of time as well. BRANDSHOP talks about Levi’s, the American brand with Russian roots.
The history of the company dates back to 1847, when 18-year old Lob Strauß together with his mother and the two sisters left Bavaria. Having buried his father died of phthisis there, the family moved to New York where Lob’s brothers were living and even running their textile business. Lob changed his name for Levi, and altered his surname a little in favor of a more American spelling, Strauss. After a year of living in America, he moved to Kentucky and started to sell his brothers’ fabrics. In 1853, when the gold rush swept the country, Strauss traveled to San Francisco and opened his own dry goods wholesale business, importing fabrics, bedding, handkerchiefs and other dry goods from his brothers and selling them to the small stores on the West Coast. Step by step, Levi was garnering his reputation. Eventually, Strauss gained the status of a well-respected businessman, yet a local philanthropist: he subscribed a lot of money to charities, aimed at helping European communities in California. Most of the fabrics to sell included imported canvas and serge denim (from French “Serge de Nimes” – serge from the city of Nimes). This went on until 1873 when one of Levi’s regular customers, tailor Jacob Davis, made him quite an interesting business offer.
Rigan Jewish, 23-year old Jacob Yophes left the Russian Empire for New York in 1854, where he also changed his name for a less eye-catching, Jacob Davis. Having worked as a tailor in Latvia, he decided to open a tailors shop at his new home. Shortly after, Jacob moved to Maine, then to San Francisco and Weatherville. Traveling from one city to another where he saw both ups and downs, Jacob found himself in San Francisco again, now with the family. After a while, he moved to Nevada, where he ran a tobacco store. After another failure, Jacob decided to get back to basics and started making tents, horse blankets and wagon covers. To reinforce the stitching, he put copper rivets at the stress points of the sewn items. Therewithal, Levi Strauss was Jacob’s very regular supplier. This continued for long, until in 1870 a client asked Jacob to make a pair of strong working pants of extra size for her husband working as a woodcutter. By this time, Davis had run out of cotton supplies, but he resorted to a ploy not to lose the order, taking the canvas he worked with all the time and making pants of it. A week later, working men lined up in front of his shop willing to buy such durable clothes.
Offer one cannot refuse
The pants became a huge success. They didn’t stretch at the knees, one could wear them working in water as they dried quickly and were easy to wash. All jokes aside, but people bought a pair for a lifetime. In 1873, Davis decided to patent his “copper riveted pants”, but a patent cost a sight of money then, 68 dollars, at a pants price of 22 cents a pair. In a letter to his long-time business partner Levi Strauss, Davis described the method of pants production and asked to lend the needed money. Strauss made a counter offer where he would pay for the patent, while both of them would own it. Davis agreed with this approach, and from then onward, they worked together. Strauss ran administration and marketing business, while Davis worked as a technologist at the pants production. The partners managed to sell 21 thousand pairs in the first year.
Strauss, willing to make the business more organized, contacted the technologists and tailors at the factory with question of how to arrange all the models and moulds existing, as he had to understand which of the silhouettes were more popular and which of them weren’t worth producing. Stupefied with the idea of arranging all the pants, Davis said the company had already created 500 pairs, and organizing them would be a Dutch act. In reply, Levi reasoned that the next pair would be the 501st. Thus, the 501 jeans still worn all around the world saw the light.
The jeans fell exactly at the period of the gold rush in the USA, when the gold-diggers just needed to have a lot of pockets – some of them for the tools, others – for the found pieces of the noble metal. The pants were incredibly durable, yet there were sore spots – pockets and fly piece that worn down very quickly. Then, to eliminate the problem, Davis made his signature move, double-stitching the problem areas and putting a copper rivet for horse harness at them. This method made the clothes live much longer, though had its drawbacks. Second pioneers of wearing jeans to gold-diggers, cowboys complained about the rivets at the hip pockets. Not only did they scratch the seat in saloons and spoil the saddles, they also abrased the body. Let alone the fly piece rivets: those sitting over the fire complained of the copper warming up so much that it burned the tender bits. The company didn’t pay much attention to the clients’ complaints for a long time, until in 1941 Levi’s CEO Walter Haas took a nature hike and fell victim to the copper trick. Returning to the office early in the morning, he made a decision to lose the clothes their dark orange accessories, yet the rivets at the fifth pocket remained. Much later, Levi’s released the vintage collection with all the classic details at their places.
For each and every one
Jeans cut being associated with the workwear back in the middle of the 20th century when movie and music stars such as Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis Presley swanked them in the movies. It is difficult to imagine modern life without denim today, as jeans have become really ingrained in people’s wardrobes. It has been 163 years since the company foundation, and a whole lot of brands producing jeans have appeared in the market, but Levi’s is the first, yet the top one. The company is the father to everything related to denim, still working to improve the collections. Brand with rich and interesting history, gold fund of the world classics.
Levi's Vintage ClothingMen's jean jacket 1967 Type III Rigid
Levi'sMen's jean jacket Trucker Icy
Levi'sMen's jean jacket Skateboarding Trucker Battery
Levi's Vintage Clothing Men's jeans 1954 501 13.75 Oz Slugger
Levi'sMen's trousers Skateboarding Work Harvest Gold
Levi'sMen's trousers Skateboarding Work Black
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