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Levi Strauss Day

Levi Strauss Day marks the birthday of Levi Strauss, the founder of Levi Strauss & Co., the first company to make blue jeans. Born in Buttenheim, Bavaria, on February 26, 1829, Strauss immigrated to New York City in 1848, with his mother and two sisters. He joined two of his older brothers, Jonas and Louis, who already lived there, in their dry goods business. Strauss went to San Francisco in 1853, during the California Gold Rush. There he became the West Coast agent for his brothers' company and started his own dry goods business, which he eventually named Levi Strauss & Co.

Strauss had a customer named Jacob Davis, who was a tailor in Reno, Nevada, who had purchased cloth from him and used it to make pants with copper rivets at areas that were under extra strain, such as at the pocket corners. Around 1872, Davis sent Strauss a letter asking him if he'd partner with him on a new patent for the metal riveted pants. Strauss was for it, and they received the patent together on May 20, 1873. This moment is considered the birth of blue jeans.

The jeans were first made with heavy canvas but were soon made of denim. Levi's jeans were originally called overalls or waist overalls and weren't known as jeans until the 1960s. In the 1890s, the original jeans were given the number "501," and are still known today as Levi's 501 jeans. In 1936, a red tab was added to the right back pocket of the 501 jeans. It was also in the 1930s that Levi's made the first jeans for women, which was groundbreaking at the time since women were known for wearing dresses, not pants.

Levi Strauss did more than run Levi Strauss & Co.—he was also a philanthropist and was deeply involved in San Francisco. He purchased the Mission and Pacific Woolen Mills with two associates in 1875. He became a charter member and treasurer of the San Francisco Board of Trade in 1877. He was a director for a number of organizations or companies: the Nevada Bank, the Liverpool, the San Francisco Gas and Electric Company, and the London and Globe Insurance Company. He contributed to the Pacific Hebrew Orphan Asylum and Home, the Hebrew Board of Relief, and the Eureka Benevolent Society. In 1897, he provided funds for 28 scholarships at the University of California, Berkeley. Levi Strauss died on September 26, 1902, at the age of 73. We remember him today, as well as his jeans, which have remained the world's most popular brand.

How to Observe Levi Strauss Day

Wear your favorite pair of Levi's! It's a great day to pick up some new ones too! While donning your jeans, you could visit the Levi Strauss Museum, located in the house Strauss was born in Buttenheim, or stroll through Levi's Plaza in San Francisco. If you'd rather lounge in your Levi's, stay at home and read a biography about Levi Strauss, or watch The 501® Jean: Stories of an Original or Riveted: The History of Jeans.

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