History & Heritage

Inventing blue jeans was just the start of how Levi Strauss pioneered a brand for true originals. Around every bend of the Levi’s® story, innovation and quality is at the heart of everything we do. Here’s how we’ve made history with you…


1853

1853

Levi Strauss & Co.

Bavarian-born Levi Strauss moves to Gold Rush era San Francisco to open a dry goods business. He sold clothes, boots and other goods to the small retail stores of the American West.

1872

1872

The Rivets

Jacob Davis, a tailor from Reno, Nevada, teams with Levi Strauss to create and patent work wear riveted-for-strength made of brown cotton duck and true blue denim.

1873

1873

The Blue Jean is Born

Jacob Davis, a tailor from Reno, Nevada, teams with Levi Strauss to create riveted-for-strength workwear made of true blue denim. On May 20, 1873 the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office grants patent #139,121 to Levi Strauss & Co. and Jacob Davis for their invention. This is how the blue jean, originally called “XX,” was born.

1886

1886

Two Horses

The Two Horse logo demonstrates the incredible strength of Levi’s® clothing. The logo is first branded onto the leather patch of the “XX” jeans in 1886 and is still used today.

1890

1890

From Double X to Five Oh One

The original “XX” blue jean is given its iconic lot number 501®.

1895

1895

Performance Gear

Levi Strauss & Co. introduces its first bicycle pants. It only takes another 116 years for us to come out with Levi’s® Commuter, a multi-functional performance product designed for the modern cyclist.

1902

1902

A Philanthropic Spirit

When Levi Strauss passes away in September, his four nephews take over the business and carry out his numerous bequests to Bay Area charities serving children and the poor.

1906

1906

Rumble and Fire

On April 18, The San Francisco earthquake and fire destroy the headquarters and two factories of Levi Strauss & Co. Employee salaries are continued, and temporary headquarters are opened to keep employees working. A new factory is built at 250 Valencia Street.

1908

1908

The Horses Go Global

The Two Horse trademark is registered in Japan and Levi’s® global reach begins in earnest with markets like Australia and South Africa soon to follow.

1909

1909

A New Classic

This year sees the introduction of fine khaki pants and coats to LS&Co.’s line of clothing.

1912

1912

Child’s Play

LS&Co. introduces Koveralls for children, a one-piece denim playsuit.

1918

1918

For the Ladies

Freedom-Alls make their appearance. This tunic/trouser outfit was designed to give women freedom of movement and release them from the restrictive clothing of the era.

1928

1928

It’s Official

LS&Co. registers the name Levi’s® as a trademark.

1930

1930s

Go East Young Man

Authentic cowboys wearing Levi’s® jeans are elevated to mythic status, and Western clothing becomes synonymous with a life of freedom and independence.

Easterners who wanted an authentic cowboy experience head to dude ranches out West, where they purchase their first pair of Levi’s® jeans and take them home to wow their friends – and help spread the Western influence to the rest of the country.

1934

1934

They Called Them “Lady Levi’s®”

The first jeans for women, Lady Levi’s® are made of pre-shrunk denim and constructed with many of the same features of the men’s 501® jeans. They owe their feminine allure to a fashionably high, nipped in waist.

1936

1936

Red Tab

The Red Tab is first placed onto the right back pocket of the jeans and the word LEVI’S® is stitched in white in all capital letters on one side only. The red Tab was created to differentiate Levi’s® jeans from competitors.

1941

1941

Waste Not, Want Not

Changes are made to Levi’s® products in order to conform to rules set by the War Production Board for the conservation of raw materials. The famous Arcuate back pocket stitching is painted instead of stitched to save thread. The back waistband cinch is completely removed and, to conserve metal, so are the watch pocket rivets. This time period also represents one of global expansion for the brand, showcasing the American icon on GIs overseas.

1950

1950s

Banned

The 1950s saw denim banned in some schools, especially in the East, for being a bad influence. The portrayal of denim-clad “juvenile delinquents” in movies and on tv led many school administrators to prohibit denim in the classroom, fearing that wearing the rebel uniform would lead students push against authority in all of its forms.

1954

1954

At Your Leisure

The Denim Family line is launched, thanks to denim’s new appeal as a leisure fabric. And what was once only workwear crosses the line into the world of casual attire.

1960

1960

Ahead of the Times

Levi Strauss & Co. opens its first factory in the South. Located in Blackstone, Virginia, the company insists that the facility be integrated at a time when desegregation had not yet been mandated by federal law.

1961

1961

Kids These Days

The new, slimmer silhouettes of the 1960s inspire Slim Fits, a 5-pocket twill trouser for young men. Teenagers call them White Levi’s® because no one knows what to call blue jeans that aren’t blue.

Early 1960

Early 1960s

No Shrinking, Violet

We do the shrinking for you. Pre-shrunk Levi’s® jeans are introduced, relieving people of the process of a hot water denim marinade.

1964

1964

Drest to Impress

Levi Strauss & Co. patents the Sta-Prest® process for creating permanent creases in fine trousers and shirts. The Sta-Prest® pants collection is re-introduced in the Levi’s® Spring 2012 Collection.

1965

1965

International Moment

The company’s international division is created to pulls together and expands all of the company’s post-war distribution in Europe and Asia.

1967

1967

Batwing

The red housemark “batwing” is designed by Walter Landor & Associates, and has, over the years, become shorthand for the Levi’s® brand itself.

1973

1973

The Art of Denim

The company announces the Levi’s® Denim Art Contest, and invites consumers to submit photos of their decorated jeans and jackets for a special judging. The winners tour American folk art museums during 1975.

1980

1980/1984

Let the Games Begin

Levi Strauss & Co. makes clothing for the athletes at Olympic Games in 1980 and 1984.

1984

1984

We Get the Blues

The famous 501® Blues television advertising campaign is launched at the Los Angeles Olympic Games.

1986

1986

Dressing Boomer

Levi Strauss & Co. introduces the Dockers® brand, filling a niche for the baby boomer man who needs something to fill that wardrobe gap between his 501® jeans and his business suit.

1989

1989

Looking to The Future, With An Eye to the Past

The company’s 150+ year history is captured in the Levi Strauss & Co. Archives, located at headquarters in San Francisco.

1991

1991

Terms of Engagement

Levi Strauss & Co. creates the first comprehensive set of standards for contractors and worldwide, called Terms of Engagement, to help promote fair labor standards and workers’ rights.

1996

1996

Retro Chic

The history of Levi’s® is kept alive through the launch of Levi’s® Vintage Clothing, a line that faithfully reproduces the fits, fabrics and characteristics of historic Levi’s® garments.

1999

Fashion Item of the Century

Time magazine names the 501® jean the Fashion Item of the Century. In the same year, the 501® jean is reverse engineered and Engineered Jeans are launched worldwide.

2010

2010

The Shape of Things

Levi’s® Curve ID jeans for women are introduced. Using a revolutionary fit system based on shape, Curve ID was created as a result of studying more than 60,000 body scans and listening to women around the world of all shapes and sizes.

2011

2011

Levi’s® Water<Less

The average pair of jeans uses 42 liters of water in the finishing process. The Levi’s® Water<Less™ Collection reduces the water consumption by up to 96%. It's the intersection of style and sustainability.

2011

2011

Born to Bike

Urban cyclists across the country adopted jeans as a part of their commuting uniform. d Inspired by the trend, Levi’s® invents the Commuter line – a multi-functional performance product designed for cyclists all over the world.

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