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Levi Strauss – Behind THE Denim Brand

Written by: Robert Charlton | January 23, 2015.


They’re a brand which has become firmly indented into the history of fashion but despite that they originate from the contrasting world of work and industry. Levi’s blue denim is iconic and sets the standard for other brands creating jeans all over the world.

Having made their first jean in 1873 the company have relentlessly chipped away to improve their product, subconsciously inspiring many cultures and varieties of people, changing the perception of “cool”.

Levi’s have helped turn an item which North American workmen wore into a staple item of clothing in all corners of the globe. The best thing about Levi’s jeans is that it doesn’t matter what you look like, where you come from or who you are- we all wear them differently and they always look stylish.

Despite inventing a quintessentially American product, Levi Strauss himself was a native of Bavaria, Germany, making the move across the Atlantic Ocean aged just 17, where he then learned his business acumen working for his two older brothers’ wholesale dry goods company.

But just a few years later his imagination was captured by talk of the California Gold Rush, so he made his way east from where he’d been living in New York and eventually set up a West Coast branch of his brothers’ business in San Francisco. Levi’s defining moment came when he was approached about the idea of putting rivets in men’s work pants, a feature which would elongate their lifespan.

Along with Jacob Davis- who had seeked investment for his invention- he had it patented and this would prove to be what sealed the business’ legacy in the years to come.

Those early days could hardly have prepared Levi Stauss & Co for what was to come in the 20th and 21st centuries though, and in-fact their product wasn’t even called “a pair of jeans” until the 1960s, before then they were simply “overalls” or “waist overalls”. Thriving off the back of post-war prosperity, the “baby boomer” era is the one attributed with taking Levi’s jeans into the world of fashion for the first time.

Levi’s 501 is probably the most famous of all their designs and the name itself is derived from the early days when the XX size which they were most often produced in was replaced by “501“, a sort of stock number used distinguish size and fit upon production.

In the hundred or so years since that first began to happen, Levi’s straight cut and often- though not always- lightly washed garment has been the fashion choice of many of the most prominent subcultures in the western world.

Levi’s once cleverly illustrated the power of their product in an advert, “Levi’s for Life”, showing how everyone from babies, youths, parents and grandparents wear their jeans and all the experiences in life that a pair of jeans accompany you through.

Levis Strauss is an innovative and creative brand which could quite easily have rested on its laurels and rich heritage but instead chose to push forward and create new styles. “The Original Fit”  501’s are still a best-seller in many colours whilst the classic blue wash will suit almost any outfit you need it to. These retro jeans are often worn with a rolled up selvedge hem and paired with vintage runner trainers by youths today (right), but they still look great when channelling the American workwear look which can be created with boots and a checked lumberjack style shirt- perhaps more akin to a slightly older demographic.

Levi’s product is not as one-dimensional as to stick with this one original style though and you will now find tapered, skinny, super-skinny and slim fitted styles in a plethora of washes- you can even buy chinos for summer 2015. Levi’s are equally popular for their denim jackets, chambray-style shirts and the plain logo t-shirts these days and you can find the new season’s stock from the brand online at Mainline Menswear now.

Shop Levi’s here

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