Blue Jeans - Public Domain Photo
I know we all own at least one pair of good, old-fashioned blue jeans. They are so rugged and durable. What did people do before the invention of blue jeans?
Levi Strauss must have looked into the future. I wonder what he would think today. Tons of companies have jumped on this bandwagon, when they saw a good thing, and after the patent ran out. They have made millions of dollars manufacturing and selling blue jeans.
I want to tell you something about Levi Strauss and denim. Invented in 1873, by Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss, immigrants from Latvia and Germany, the first blue jeans used a canvas material and were sold as work wear. Eventually, these inventors dropped the canvas because it was stiff and they turned to denim, a fabric actually used for work wear dating back to the 1600’s in London. Later, with rivets added, the denim blue jeans we all know came to the marketplace.
Jacob came up with the idea of adding the rivets because one of his customers kept ripping the pockets right out of his work pants. However, he didn’t have the $68 to apply for a patent for his idea, so he approached Levi Strauss, who was supplying him with denim material, and together, as business partners, they applied for the patent, receiving it on May 20, 1873, the official birthday for blue jeans.
The two entrepreneurs added rivets to the work wear and had an exclusive here until the patent ran out. After it expired, dozens of people started making riveted clothing inspired by Levi’s jeans. The number 501 assigned to the pants in 1890 is still used today.
Levi's Blue Jeans - Public Domain Photo
Jeans became popular first as work pants because of durability, then in 1930’s westerns. In the 1940’s, soldiers wore them before they were seen in movies and on TV in the 1950’s. In the 1960’s, styles started changing and all of a sudden, we had embroidered jeans, painted jeans and psychedelic jeans. Bell-bottoms emerged on the scene.
Things went from there, and today, although they are about the same as they’ve always been, we have jeans in every shape and color, from sandblasted to dark blue and every shade in between, as well as some with elaborate decorations.
I think this fabric will outlast all others, as I have some jeans that are 40 years old and I still wear them. How many of you can say that? I’m glad they still fit and aren’t full of holes because it is very hard to find bell-bottom jeans today. Occasionally, I make my own, but that’s a lot of work, not to mention its very thick material to sew. It can be frustrating and I can break many needles in the process.