Blue jeans, denim, dungarees, Levi’s. We might call them different things, but they all started in the same place. Levi Strauss came to San Francisco to form a company in 1873 to sell dry goods from his brother’s New York company. Levi struck a deal with tailor Jacob Davis to make work pants out of a blue denim that is known today around the world as blue jeans.
Opening his business at 90 Sacramento Street in San Francisco Levi Strauss he later expanded the business to take over 63 & 65 Sacramento Street. During this time a tailor named Jacob Davis who was buying hemp cloth from Strauss to repair work pants came up with the idea of the copper rivets to reinforce the jeans. He wanted to patent the idea, but lacking money he suggested to Strauss that they go into business together. Interesting note was that Levi’s first jeans were indeed made of hemp and not denim which didn’t start until 1890 when the first pair of denim Levi’s 501 jeans were made.
Trivia Note: Levi’s 501 originally had a copper rivet right in front in the crotch where the front met the back. Unfortunately several workers at a campfire stood a little too close to the fire and warmed up the rivet enough to give them a rude awakening down there.
While modern jeans didn’t start to spread outside San Francisco and California until around 1920 they finally made their way back east around 1930 with the dude ranch craze that was popular at the time. During World War II Levi’s became the pants of the working class outfitting the thousands of people taking up arms and working for the various defense companies around the country.
It was the 50’s and 60’s that make Levi’s an American icon among the youth of the nation. The 80’s greasers with their slicked back hair had to hand roll the cuffs of the jeans tightly and perfectly to look cool while the hippies of the 60’s let it all hang out with the bell bottoms flapping in the breeze [personal note, I feel that bell bottoms were one of the best jeans ideas of all times to hide skinny calves].
Now every where you go you see Levi’s or some knock off brand just about everywhere you go. citizen’s of Russia were paying hundred of dollars if not thousands of dollars for a pair and now things have come full circle and we lucky San Franciscan’s can do so as well.
Levi’s has opened a store in San Francisco at 815 Market Street in the Old Navy store that used to occupy the space. While the 501 Jeans of the working man are still sold there and are a big seller they’re making newer types of jeans some not using denim at all. They have commuter styles, eco-friendly styles [made from recycled water bottles] and even laser etched styles for the hip fashionistas out there [tattoo your pants because skin tattoos are SO 10 minutes ago!]
After years of wearing Levi’s I had moved away from blue to black generic jeans. They were cheaper, I was fatter and they worked more or less. I actually found some 527 Levi’s slim boot cut jeans I bought the other day and I’ve fallen in love with Levi’s again. Levi’s just fit right. There is something iconic about the fading blue of the denim that I had forgotten and the slight flare below the knees [hence why they are called boot cut] hides skinny calves that the skinny jeans just accentuate. I actually feel younger and from what people have told me, I look younger in these jeans. I’m a happy man. Now to go get my jeans tattooed. Should I get the sailor’s anchor or the pin up girl on them?