In 1873, the first blue jeans were patented by German born Levi Strauss and invented by an American tailor Jacob Davis. The pants were first created when the wife of a local labourer asked Davis to make a pair of pants that wouldn’t fall apart. In trying to strengthen the denim work pants (already widely worn by labourers, miners and mechanics at the time), Jacob used copper rivets to fasten the pockets so they don’t tear.
After the initial hit, he decided to find a business partner to patent the work. Strauss, who he bought the denim fabric from was also an astute businessman who, after moving to the United States in the 1840s, helped his brothers run a dry goods business. More than 20 years of experience in the area and an attention to philanthropy made him well placed to get the project going.
Today, they are considered a part of classical American apparel, so much so that the jeans became a part of the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. in 1964. Despite their label as blue jeans today, they were called ‘waist overalls’ or ‘overalls’ originally. It was only during the 1960s that the term ‘blue jeans’ caught on.
The next time you see someone wearing a pair of Levi’s® jeans, remember that these pants are a direct descendant of that first pair made back in 1873.