Education | The History of the Blue Jean
There are two names that will forever be fastened in the history books as the founding fathers of the blue jean as we know it today: Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss.
So the story goes, around 1872 the wife of a local labourer approached Reno, Nevada tailor, Jacob Davis, and requested a pair of pants for her husband. Her request was to the point – make a pair of pants that would be able to withstand the day-to-day work of her husband. This request forced Davis to think outside the box and what transpired was the concept of putting a metal rivet at stress points of the pant like pocket corners and base of the button fly.
The pant was a hit and the rivet offered the strength required to increase the durability of the pant. Davis figured he was on to something and decided that taking out a patent on the process was in his best interest. Davis was on a mission to secure the patent but was hopeful of getting a business partner on board to help get the idea off the ground.
Davis penned a letter to Levi’s disclosing his new found process of reinforcing pants. Davis had purchased cloth from Levi Strauss for his pants and was confident that the partnership would make sense for both parties. Levi Strauss was intrigued and the two applied for and received patent #139,121 from the U.S. Patent and Trademark office on May 20, 1873. The date became synonymous with the birth of the blue jeans, although up until 1960 they were referred to as “waist overalls” or “overalls”.
Though workwear pants constructed of denim were produced well before May 20, 1873 it is still considered the birth of one of the most popular pieces of apparel on the planet.
“Denim is one of the world’s oldest fabrics, yet it remains eternally young” – American Fabrics (1969).