Lynn DowneyJul 9, 2019
The Man Who Gave Blue Jeans to the World
University of Massachusetts Press 2016
Nearly every consumer today is familiar with the name Levi Strauss thanks to the jeans that bear his name. As Lynn Downey explains in her book Levi Strauss: The Man Who Gave Blue Jeans to the World (University of Massachusetts Press, 2016), to understand the man behind the brand requires sorting through decades of popular legends created to fill a vacuum of knowledge. Born Löb Strauß, he changed his name to Levis Strauss when he emigrated as a young man from Bavaria to the United States. Once in New York City he joined the dry goods firm established by his brothers, moving to California in 1853 to establish a branch of the firm in San Francisco. There Strauss prospered with the gold rush-era boom, becoming a leading Bay Area businessman and civic philanthropist. It was this status that led Jacob Davis, a Nevada tailor, to seek his help in patenting his design for riveted pants. Together they succeeded in establishing a patent that became the foundation for the brand known today throughout the world, thanks to Strauss’s decision to trademark the brand prior to the patent’s expiration.