German Genes in American Jeans

34209548Quick, look down at your legs. Are you wearing blue jeans? If you are, then you are paying tribute to Levi Strauss’s legacy. This year marks the 140th anniversary of the first modern pair of blue jeans, which may be as American as apple pie, but they were patented and distributed by German immigrant Levi Strauss. Strauss was born in Buttenheim, Bavaria, and came to the United States in 1847 when he was 18 years old.

His family owned a dry goods store in New York City. Like many in the late 19th century, Strauss looked to the West for the final frontier, and embarked on a journey to open a satellite business in San Francisco.

34457613It was there that he was contacted by tailor Jacob Davis, who was looking for a business partner to sell his new style of denim jeans, which had metal rivets at the stress points to prevent them from falling apart. This revolutionary idea made Levi Strauss & Co. a household name.

Check out any pair of jeans, from 1873 until 2012, and they will have those metal rivets. Strauss and Davis received their patent on May 20, 1873, and the rest is history. Since then, jeans have become a symbol of the west and of freedom. They were once a symbol of the working man, but are now a symbol of the American Dream, and, like many American dreamers, they have their roots in Germany.