Strauss, Levi

Strauss, Levi,

1829–1902, American merchant, b. Buttenheim, Germany, as Löb Strauss. He moved with his mother and sisters to New York City in 1847 to join his brothers' wholesale dry-goods company. In 1853 he became a U.S. citizen and moved to San Francisco, where the gold rush had created opportunities for the family business. As Levi Strauss & Co., he wholesaled dry goods, mostly acquired from his brothers. In the 1870s, he formed a partnership with Jacob Davis, a tailor, to sell Davis's sturdy, riveted denim pants, later called blue jeans. "Levi's" eventually were favored not only by miners and cowboys for work but by Americans generally, becoming a symbol of the American lifestyle.
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Strauss, Levi

(?1830–1902) clothing manufacturer; born in Bavaria, Germany. He came to New York City in 1847 and worked as a peddlar before moving to San Francisco in 1850 when gold was discovered in California. He began to sell cloth and soon opened a dry goods store with supplies shipped in by his brothers in New York. When miners wanted a sturdy pair of pants, he tried making them out of tent canvas; he then shifted to a cotton imported from France, serge de Nimes, which was known in America as "denim." Dyed indigo blue and with copper rivets at the stress points, these pants soon became known as "Levi's" and were soon adopted as the work pants for many in the West; from there they spread throughout the U.S.A. and eventually throughout the world. A bachelor, Strauss turned the business over to two nephews; one passed it on to his son-in-law Walter Haas Sr., in whose family it largely remained throughout the 20th century.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.