May 20, 1873 – Businessman Levi Strauss and tailor Jacob Davis are granted a patent on this date for their pants reinforced with metal rivets, marking the official birthday of what we know today as blue jeans.
Originally, Strauss made money selling work pants (which he called “waist overalls”) to miners living out West who were seeking their fortunes in the gold rush. Davis, one of Strauss’ regular customers, proposed the addition of metal to the corners of the pockets and the base of the button fly to make the pants stronger and more durable.
The two worked together and thus, the blue jean was born. The pants took off, and by the 1920s, Strauss’ denim waist overalls were the top-selling men’s work pants in the United States.
Words of Wisdom for May 20, 2016
“Objects are what matter. Only they carry the evidence that throughout the centuries something really happened among human beings.”
— Levi Strauss (February 26, 1829 – September 26, 1902) was a German-American businessman of German Jewish descent who founded the first company to manufacture blue jeans. His firm, Levi Strauss & Co., began in 1853 in San Francisco, California.