Society » Real life stories
Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Jeans appeared owing to enterprising talent of Jewish man

Jeans - the garment that enjoys immense popularity in almost every country of the globe - have become a phenomenon that requires a thorough study. The blue trousers made of thick fabric with the shabby effect are a wonderful collection of positive characteristics: they are firm, comfortable, sexy and absolutely universal.

There are just few inventions in history that are really great. The tendency is also history of mankind once and for all thus conducting a revolution in people’s clothes and minds. Jeans are such a phenomenon known for over a century with which each of us deals every day.

Couturiers of the world admire jeans. Yves Saint Laurent sounded incredibly emotional when spoke about them. Jeans at the same time are a very profitable business.

It is astonishing that jeans, the world’s most outstanding American symbol were invented by a poor German Jew.

Leb Strause (some sources name the man as Leiba Strause) was born to a family having many children in the Bavarian village of Battenheim. The family immigrated to America when the father died in 1847. The young salesman changed his name for a more euphonic name, Levi Strauss that is known worldwide today. But peddling was not really paying, and young members of the family were finally greatly inspired with the gold fever that promised quick money to millions of people.

However, modest Levi Strauss cherished rather innocent dreams: he just wanted to open a small store to trade unbleached linen for tents that his brothers supplied from New York. The business was neither good not bad until some gold-digger being in Levi’s store complained that ordinary clothes did not suit for working at gold mines. The complaint would pass unnoticed for many people but Levi Strauss turned out to be rather attentive to the gold-digger’s problem. He seized a piece of his brown canvas and took the gold-digger to a tailor living next door. In a couple of hours, the amazed gold-digger got the world’s first jeans. The trousers turned out to be very strong and comfortable, and talks about them spread about California immediately. The first jeans got so incredibly popular that just in a week Levi Strauss had lots of new clients.

The salesman wanted to satisfy even very minute and absurd request as concerning the jeans design coming from clients. They stated that new trousers must have double stitches, their pockets must be strong to hold gold dust and their belt loops must be really very firm. The first lot of Levi’s pants made according to clients’ demand created incredible boom which is still very high today.

The word ‘jeans’ appeared later than the pants were created. It happened so that Levi’s brothers could not cover the increasing demand for sail cloth and the businessman had to bring some cloth from Genoa where good thick fabrics were produced. The name of the place in the American transcription became the name for the new pants, ‘jeans’. Some time later, Strauss began to purchase thick blue serge in Nim, France. This is how another name for the jeans fabric appeared, denim (‘de Nim’ meaning from Nim).

One of Levi’s many customers was a tailor named Jacob Davis. Originally from Latvia, Jacob lived in Reno, Nevada, and regularly purchased bolts of cloth from the wholesale house of Levi Strauss & Co. Among Jacob’s customers was a difficult man who kept ripping the pockets of the pants that Jacob made for him. Jacob tried to think of a way to strengthen the man’s trousers, and one day hit upon the idea of putting metal rivets at the points of strain, such as on the pocket corners and at the base of the button fly.

These riveted pants were an instant hit with Jacob's customers and he worried that someone might steal this great idea. He decided he should apply for a patent on the process, but didn’t have the $68 that was required to file the papers. He needed a business partner and he immediately thought of Levi Strauss.

Jacob wrote to Levi to suggest that the two men hold the patent together. Levi, who was an astute businessman, saw the potential for this new product and agreed to Jacob’s proposal.

Jeans was the wear popular among cowboys and symbolized the western style created in Hollywood in the 1930s. Jeans came to Europe after WWII together with the allied armies and American movies. In the 1960s, jeans became the symbol of rebellious youth and after that entered the high fashion world. Jeans has not changed radically within the past century and a half . Just one innovation slightly changed the traditional jeans at the beginning of the past century when zip fasteners appeared. However, classical Levi’s jeans are still made with buttons only.

Jean Paul Gaultier, a devoted admirer of denim widely uses the material in his collection to make wide trousers, shorts, jackets and overalls. These clothes are very functional as usual but at the same time look very romantic which is a popular tendency this season.

This season, D&G and Lacroix offer classical silhouette jeans that are tight and decorated with metal rivets. In their collections there are also low waist jeans having no decoration extravagances.

Today, even jeans in youth collections look more austere than those popular a couple of years ago. The epoch of excessive decoration is over but jeans will remain popular always no matter if they have buttons or zip fasteners, if they are tight or wide, classical or having low waist.

Men's Time

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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