Levi Strauss was born on February 26, 1829 in Bavaria, Germany as a Jewish German Bavarian. Levi Strauss was born as Loeb Strauss.
In 1847, Strauss, his mother and two sisters moved to New York, to join his brothers, Jonas and Louis Loeb, in their dry goods business.
By 1850 he adopted the name “Levi Strauss” and in 1853, Strauss moved to San Francisco, California, during the gold mining boom. There he opened a dry goods wholesale business, Levi Strauss & Co., selling to small stores in California. Strauss observed that work clothes worn by gold prospectors and miners were not able to endure their torturous ordeal of working inside mine shafts, digging in the dirt and grime. Strauss developed the concept of and sold durable canvas pants. Initially, they were not very comfortable to wear but were very durable. Later, Strauss discovered denim. Strauss did not have any trouser material, but he did have some tent canvas which had come from De Nimes in France. He dyed this cloth in a dark blue colour and cut work trousers for the miners, and called the cloth "denim" from the French name "De Nimes". Initially, he made the trousers in two colours, indigo blue and brown cotton "duck". The brown was later dropped because the fabric did not get softer with use as the dark blue kind did. These trousers were so strong and useful that he made hundreds of them, known as "jeans".
Jacob Davis, a tailor from Nevada, joined Levi Strauss in 1873 and he started to put copper rivets on the stress points of the working trousers, so that they did not tear at those points. These made the jeans much more long-lasting.
On May 20, 1873 Strauss and Jacob Davis received a United States patent for using copper rivets to strengthen the pockets of denim work pants. Levi Strauss & Co. began manufacturing the first blue jeans in San Francisco.
Levi Strauss died in 1902 but his family business continued and now the word Levi is synonymous with denim jeans. A few years ago, a pair of original Levi jeans was found in an old mine in California, buried under a lot of rubble. They were cleaned and sold at auction for several million dollars. From the 1960's Jeans have become a universal garment worn by men and women the world over. They were first featured in Vogue magazine in 1935.