Levi Strauss

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Levi Strauss, ca.1850

Levi Strauss (born February 26, 1829 as Löb Strauss in Buttenheim , † September 26, 1902 in San Francisco ) was a German - American industrialist . Together with his business partner Jacob Davis, he is considered to be the inventor of jeans .


Levi Strauss' birthplace in Marktstrasse in Buttenheim , today the Levi Strauss Museum

Strauss was named Loeb Strauss in Upper Franconia Buttenheim in Bamberg as the son of Jewish born parents. His father, Hirsch Strauss, a poor peddler , died of tuberculosis when Löb was 16 years old. The large family got into economic hardship. In 1847 his mother Rebecca emigrated to America with the youngest children - him and two of his sisters . They followed the two oldest Strauss brothers to New York, who made their living there by trading in textiles. From then on, Strauss called himself Levi, acquired American citizenship and worked in the brothers' business.

The news of gold discoveries meanwhile spread from the American west to the east coast. In 1853 Levi Strauss followed the gold rush and moved to San Francisco . He and his brother-in-law, his brother Louis, founded a haberdashery and fabric trade there . The range was also supplemented by things like toothbrushes, braces, buttons and going out clothes for the rough Wild West pioneers.

Strauss not only sold his goods in San Francisco, but also with local gold miners because of the prices paid there. Since he had previously dealt with clothes and haberdashery as a peddler, Levi had taken balls of fabric, tarpaulin and sewing kits with him. He soon found out that the gold diggers needed sturdy pants for their hard work .

Levi Strauss, ca.1880

As a wholesaler, he also sold so-called duck pants made of cotton canvas , which were then removed from the range due to a lack of profitability. The seams of the trouser pockets were not robust enough because the gold diggers stuffed their trouser pockets with all sorts of material from the mines. The duck pants are often confused with the jeans , which only existed with a patent application. Contrary to popular tale, there is no evidence that jeans or their precursors were made from hemp textiles.

In December 1870 , tailor Jacob Davis from Riga came up with the idea of reinforcing the corners of the trouser pockets and the lower end of the bib with rivets from a horse harness. Because he didn't have the money to patent the process he had developed in 1872, he turned to Levi Strauss, who supplied him with balls of cloth. Strauss supported the project and received the corresponding patent together with Davis on May 20, 1873 . The riveted waist overalls met with huge demand. By the end of the year, 5,875 dozen denim pants and coats had been sold. Two factories produced these pants. Ten years later, the company already had 535 employees.

In 1902, the textile manufacturer died unexpectedly in his San Francisco home, where he lived with his sister Fanny's family. He left his company Levi Strauss & Company , founded in 1853, to his four nephews because he had no children himself. He was buried in the Hills of Eternity Cemetery in Colma, south of San Francisco.


The company, which was co-founded by Levi Strauss, developed into an internationally oriented group with almost 14,000 employees (as of November 26, 2017) and $ 4.4 billion in sales , which delivers its products to over 100 countries.



  • Levi Strauss - A life for jeans. Germany / USA, 2009 (60 min.) Scenic documentation by Christoph Weinert . First broadcast: February 19, 2010 on ARTE

Playmobil figure

In 2018 the city of Buttenheim celebrated its 900th anniversary. The Levi-Strauss Museum commissioned a Playmobil figure (No. 9295) from Levi-Strauss for the occasion . It was produced in a limited edition of 25,000 pieces. The figure is modeled after Levi Strauss at a young age and consists of elements from the Western world 1987/88 and carries an advertising poster for the first jeans in his hand.

Web links

Commons : Levi Strauss  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Levi's Brown Duck Trousers . Americanhistory.si.edu. Retrieved April 9, 2016
  2. A short History of Denim ( Memento of the original from February 28, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , 2014, Lynn Downey, Levi Strauss & Co. Historian (PDF; 117 kB), accessed April 9, 2016 (Eng.) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / lsco.s3.amazonaws.com
  3. Patent US139121A : Improvement in fastening pocket openings. Applied August 9, 1872 , published May 20, 1873 , Applicant: Jacob W. Davis; Levis Strauss & Co, inventor: Jacob W. Davis.
  4. ^ House of Bavarian History : Tanja Roppel on Levi Strauss - a Bavarian-American success story (PDF; 55 kB), accessed November 3, 2010
  5. https://playmorama.de/playmobil/western-sonderfigur-levi-strauss-9295/