Goodbye Bayern/Levi Strauss

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Photo étiquette Levi's 501.jpg

  1. Read the biography.
    1. Where did Levi Strauss come from?
    2. Why did he emigrate? Give two reasons.
    3. What did he do in America?

Originally named Loeb, Levi Strauss was born into a large family on February 26, 1829, in Buttenheim, Bavaria. His father Hirsh and his mother Rebecca Haas Strauss had two children together, and five children from his first marriage. Living in Bavaria, the Strausses experienced religious discrimination because they were Jewish. There were restrictions on where they could live and special taxes placed on them because of their faith.

When he was around the age of sixteen, Strauss lost his father to tuberculosis. He, his mother, and two sisters made their way to the United States two years later. Upon their arrival, the family reunited with Jonas and Louis, Strauss's two older brothers, in New York City. Jonas and Louis had established a dry goods business there and Levi went to work for them. [1]

Birth of Blue Jeans

The California Gold Rush of 1849 led many to travel out west to seek their fortune. Strauss was no exception. In early 1853, he headed out to San Francisco to sell goods to the thriving mining trade. Strauss ran his own wholesale dry goods company as well as acted as his brothers' West Coast agent. He sold clothing, fabric[2], and other items to small shops in the region.

A customer, Jacob Davis, wrote to Strauss in 1872, asking for his help. Davis, a tailor in Nevada, had bought cloth from Strauss for his own business and developed a special way to make more durable pants. Davis used metal rivets on the pockets and on the front fly seam to help the pants resist wear and tear. Unable to cover the cost himself, Davis asked Strauss to pay the fee so that he could secure a patent for his unique design.

The following year, the patent was granted to Strauss and Davis. Strauss believed that there would be a great demand for these "waist overalls" as he called them, but they are best known today as blue jeans. At first they were made with a heavy canvas and then the company switched to a denim fabric, which was dyed[3] to blue to reportedly hide stains.


  1. Levi Strauss (
  2. fabric: (rolls of) textile material; eg. cotton, silk or linen
  3. dye: to colour with dye