It was on this day in 1826 that Levi Strauss was born in Buttenheim, Germany. At the age of 18 he left for New York City with his mother and siblings. Nine years later and still a young whipper-snapper not yet thirty, Levi was chosen to be the masthead and sole proprieter of the Strauss family outpost on the west coast. Here in San Francisco — then the commercial epicenter of the California gold rush — Levi ran a successful business importing and selling linens, combs, handkerchiefs, and other ephemera to the people of San Francisco. However, it was not until 1873, at the age of 47, when Levi patented his riveted dungarees with the help of a Reno-based tailor, Jacob Davis. The addition of rivets to stress points on the pants quickly established the Levi Strauss brand of dungarees as the premier choice for miners, workers, and men of the west.
We’ve heard the Levi Strauss story a million times over, but I think it deserves retelling here on the day of his birth. Further proof that in this age of 140 characters and mobile-everything the GOOD stuff usually takes a considerable amount of time to arrive at, and oftentimes; the help of a partner.
Objects are what matter. Only they carry the evidence that throughout the centuries something really happened to human beings.