It has been more than 140 years since Levi Strauss invented blue-jeans and they are still very popular today. Farmers and workers wear them to work in; children wear them to play in. Others wear them because they are comfortable. Before the 1950’s, blue-jeans were popular only in the West and Southwest. Today, almost everyone wears them. Americans buy about 500 million pairs of jeans a year.
That’s more than two pairs per person. Of course, blue-jeans are also popular in other parts of the world. In these areas, people buy about 200 million pairs of jeans. Levi Strauss and Company makes about one-third of all the jeans in the United States and about one-seventh of those in other countries.
In fact, for a long time, people used the word Levi’s1 as a synonym for blue-jeans. That’s because ‘Levi’s’ were the first jeans. The inventor was a German immigrant named Levi Strauss. Levi Strauss left Germany in 1848, when he was a young man. He came to New York City to be near his two brothers. For two years, he worked as a salesman. He worked hard, but he didn’t earn much money. Then, he decided to go to San Francisco.
Gold was discovered in California in 1848, so many people left their homes and jobs in the east and they moved to mining camps in California, hoping to find gold and become rich. Some of them oM<i, but many did not. When Levi went West, he brought some canvas (a very strong cloth) with him. He wanted to sell it to the miners for making tents. His canvas was the wrong kind for tents, so nobody bought it, but Levi found another use for it.
A miner told Levi that he needed a good, strong pair of pants because digging for gold was hard work. When Levi heard that, he made a pair of canvas pants for the miner. The miner paid Levi 6 dollars in gold dust and told the other miners about ‘those pants of Levi’s*. Levi quickly sold a lot of pants, so he wrote to his brothers in New York and told them to send him more canvas, but they sent him some heavy cotton cloth called ‘denim’, much of which came from Genes (the French name for the city of Genoa, Italy).
Levi changed the spelling of Genes to ‘jeans’. He called his new pants blue-jeans. In 1853, Levi and his brothers opened a small clothing business in San Francisco. Today they make and sell about 250 million pieces of clothing a year – from women’s clothes to men’s suits, and of course, blue-jeans