Page 22 : Origin of Everyday Things

Jeans

Jeans were born in 1850. When young Levi Strauss came to San Francisco, he brought lots of canvas to build tents for labourers working in gold mines. He was doing fine until one day a worker jokingly requested him to make pants for him with that canvas because his pants got torn in the mine very quickly. Nonetheless, Levi stitched the pants for him and it was a great success.
Soon all the workers were wearing Levi’s canvas pants. Levi abandoned his previous business of making tents and started making pants instead! When the canvas stock was over, he made denim pants. He coloured them blue. The workers liked these too. For the next 20 years, Levi’s business flourished in this manner.
In 1872, a Russian tailor Jacob Davis wrote to Levi Strauss. He suggested brass rivets on the seams of these pants. This would make these pants stronger. Davis suggested a partnership. In 1873, they opened their own company by the name of Lewis Strauss and Company.
Till 1920, however, only workers wore these pants. Later, some film stars and other renowned people wore Levi jeans, and it became a fad. In 1940, some schools designed their uniform with jeans. Since then, jeans have been the favourite dress of the young generation.
As jeans reached higher circles, it was modified as per their status. Famous film star Lana Tuner had diamond-studded jeans. Henry Kissinger also wore the best-fitted jeans. The Levi Strauss Museum in San Francisco displays a pair of jeans worn by a woman regularly for 17 years.

– Seema Gupta