Levi Strauss

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This article is about the American clothing manufacturer. For the French anthropologist, see Claude Lévi-Strauss.
For other uses, see Levi Strauss (disambiguation).
Levi Strauss
Levi Strauss 1.jpg
Born Löb Strauß
(1829-02-26)February 26, 1829
Buttenheim, Kingdom of Bavaria
Died September 26, 1902(1902-09-26) (aged 73)
San Francisco, California, U.S
Known for Founding the first company to manufacture riveted blue jeans

Levi Strauss (/ˌlv ˈstrs/, born Löb Strauß, German: [løːp ˈʃtʁaʊs]; February 26, 1829 – September 26, 1902) was an American businessman of German origin who founded the first company to manufacture blue jeans. His firm, Levi Strauss & Co., began in 1853 in San Francisco, California.[1][2]


Birthplace of Levi Strauss

Levi Strauss was born in Buttenheim, Germany, on February 26, 1829, in the Franconian region of Bavaria, Germany, to an Ashkenazi Jewish family.[3] He was the son of Hirsch Strauss and his second wife Rebecca Strauss.[4][5] At the age of 18, Strauss, his mother and two sisters traveled to the United States to join his brothers Jonas and Louis, who had begun a wholesale dry goods business in New York City called J. Strauss Brother & Co.[6]

Business career[edit]

Levi's sister Fanny and her husband David Stern moved to St. Louis, Missouri, while Levi went to live in Louisville, Kentucky, and sold his brothers' supplies in Kentucky.[7] In January 1853, Levi Strauss became an American citizen.[8]

The family decided to open a West Coast branch of the family dry goods business in San Francisco, which was the commercial hub of the California Gold Rush. Levi was chosen to represent the family and he took a steamship for San Francisco, arriving in early March 1853, where he joined his sister's family.[9]

Strauss opened his dry goods wholesale business as Levi Strauss & Co. and imported fine dry goods—clothing, bedding, combs, purses, handkerchiefs—from his brothers in New York. He made tents, and later jeans. Levi lived with Fanny's growing family.[10]

Jacob Davis, one of Strauss's customers and one of the inventors of riveted denim pants in 1871,[11] went into business with Strauss to produce blue jeans. The two men patented the new style of work pants in 1873.[12]


Levi Strauss died on September 26, 1902, in San Francisco at the age of 73. He never married, and left the business to his four nephews, Jacob, Sigmund, Louis, and Abraham Stern, the sons of his sister Fanny and her husband David Stern. He also left bequests to a number of charities, such as the Pacific Hebrew Orphan Asylum and the Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum. Before his death, he had also established scholarships at the University of California Berkeley (Levi Strauss Scholarships).[13] Levi's fortune was estimated to be around $6 million[14] ($164 million in 2014 dollars). He was buried in Colma, California.


The Levi Strauss museum in Buttenheim, Germany, is located in the 1687 house where Strauss was born. There is also a Visitors Center at Levi Strauss & Co. headquarters in San Francisco, which features historical exhibits. The Levi Strauss Foundation started with an 1897 donation to the University of California, Berkeley.[15][16]


  1. ^ Downey, Lynn (2008). "Levi Strauss: a short biography" (PDF). Levi Strauss & Co. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 23, 2011. Retrieved January 1, 2011. 
  2. ^ James Sullivan, Jeans: a cultural history of an American icon (Gotham, 2007).
  3. ^ Dinkelspiel, Frances (2010). Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California. St. Johns Martin's Press. p. 145. ISBN 978-0-312-35527-2. Retrieved May 1, 2012. 
  4. ^ http://www.joachim-dietze.de/pdf/levis_aa.pdf
  5. ^ http://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=DAC18690108.2.38.1 * July 6, 1799, + January 8, 1869
  6. ^ Carey, Charles W. (2002). American inventors, entrepreneurs and business visionaries. Facts on File. pp. 331–332. ISBN 978-0-8160-4559-4. Retrieved May 1, 2012. 
  7. ^ Evans, Harold (2004). They made America. Little Brown. ISBN 9780316277662. Retrieved November 12, 2012. 
  8. ^ Feldberg, Michael (2002). Blessings of freedom: chapters in American Jewish history. KTAV Publishing. p. 172. ISBN 9780881257557. Retrieved November 12, 2012. 
  9. ^ Leiman, Sondra (1994). America: the Jewish experience. UAHC Press. p. 59. ISBN 9780807405000. Retrieved November 12, 2012. 
  10. ^ Downe, Lynn (2007). Levi Strauss & Co. Arcadia Publishers. p. 9. ISBN 9780738555539. Retrieved November 12, 2012. 
  11. ^ Loverin, Jan (2006), "A Nevada Stylist: Your Denim Jeans Are a Nevada Invention" (PDF), Nevada State Museum Newsletter, 36 (3): 4, archived from the original (PDF) on April 29, 2013, retrieved March 12, 2016 
  12. ^ U.S. Patent 139,121
  13. ^ Downey, Lynn. "Levi Strauss." In Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 2, edited by William J. Hausman. German Historical Institute. Last modified February 18, 2014.
  14. ^ Associated Press (September 28, 1902). "Levi Strauss Dead". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 1, 2012. Levi Strauss, one of the last of the oldtime merchants of San Francisco. and one of the best-known men from the most southerly limit of California to Puget Sound. 
  15. ^ "Foundations - Levi Strauss & Co". Levistrauss.com. Archived from the original on November 5, 2012. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  16. ^ Thomas, Grace Powers (1898). Where to educate, 1898-1899. A guide to the best private schools, higher institutions of learning, etc., in the United States. Boston: Brown and Company. p. 10. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 

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