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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
From Double X to Five Oh One
The original “XX” blue jean is given its iconic lot number 501®.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A New Classic
This year sees the introduction of fine khaki pants and coats to LS&Co.’s line of clothing.
LS&Co. introduces Koveralls for children, a one-piece denim playsuit.
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.
LS&Co. registers the name Levi’s® as a trademark.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The company’s international division is created to pulls together and expands all of the company’s post-war distribution in Europe and Asia.
The red housemark “batwing” is designed by Walter Landor & Associates, and has, over the years, become shorthand for the Levi’s® brand itself.
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.
Let the Games Begin
Levi Strauss & Co. makes clothing for the athletes at Olympic Games in 1980 and 1984.
We Get the Blues
The famous 501® Blues television advertising campaign is launched at the Los Angeles Olympic Games.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Born to Bike
Urban cyclists across the country adopted jeans as a part of their commuting uniform. Inspired by the trend, Levi’s® invents the Commuter line – a multi-functional performance product designed for cyclists all over the world.