Levi Strauss’ Early Life
Levi Strauss, the founder of the first blue jeans company, was born to Hirsch Strauss and Rebecca Haas Strauss on February 26, 1826, Buttenheim, Bavaria, in Germany. Rebecca Haas Strauss was the second wife of Hirsch Strauss who was previously married to Mathilde Baumann Strauss who passed away in 1822. Hirsch had five children with Mathilde Baumann and two children with Rebecca Haas.
Unfortunately, Hirsch Strauss passed away in 1846 of tuberculosis at the time that Levi was about sixteen years of age. Faced with the challenges of Jewish living in Germany, Rebecca had Levi, and his sister moved to the United States of America in 1847.
In America, Strauss went to work for his two elder brothers, Jonas and Louis who ran a dry goods business in New York called, “J. Strauss Brother and Co” where he gained the knowledge of the business.
The Gold Rush
In 1849, the news of the Gold Rush in California reached New York, and in 1853, Levi Strauss set out in search of his gold adventure but as a wholesaler of dry goods of course to the gold miners. With this decision, Levi set up his own business called, “Levi Strauss and Co.” while serving as the West Coast agent of J. Strauss Brother and Co.
The Blue Jeans Invention
Levi became a very successful businessman with a wide distribution network before David Jacob, a customer and tailor, wrote a letter to him. In his letter, David Jacob confided to Strauss how his new garments were designed to be durable. He achieved by making rivets at the pockets and the front fly seam which made them long-lasting.
But with little finance, it was difficult for him to get a patent for his special design. Strauss was thrilled and wasted no time in showing his commitment. He provided the money for the patent.
David Jacob and Levi Strauss were granted the patent the following year on May 20, 1873. Thus, the manufacture of jeans began. Although the use of denim fabric was a later idea that replaced the heavy canvas, they made. At first, the jeans were manufactured by local seamstresses before Levi set up his factory. By setting up his factory, Levi made massive production and created more distribution channels that made a huge success. And as his business grew so did his pocket, he made more money.
The present Levi’s logo has never been undergone variations to suit the changing times. The first logo creation of 1886 was that of two horses trying to pull the jeans apart. This logo was telling a story of how strong and durable Levi’s blue jeans are. With few literates and language barriers in the gold community, this was the best way to communicate with them.
The rebranding of the logo began in the 1970s which depicts the wing of a bat—an intentional branding strategy to represent the back pocket stitches. The fonts are an original creation owned by Levi’s which makes it outstanding.
Another branding strategy of Levi’s is that of a red tab to serve as a unique differentiation. Among other colours used are orange, blue, and assorted colours. Levi’s is always trying to be innovative in their branding approach.
Levi Strauss as a philanthropist
Levi Strauss was committed to charity by making contributions to Pacific Hebrew Orphan Asylum and Home and other charitable organizations. He also provided funding for about 28 scholarships at the University of California in 1874. Levi Strauss assisted in the establishment of Temple Emma-El, the first synagogue in the city.
Levi Strauss’ Death
Levi Strauss died on February 26 1902. He had a net worth of about $6 million which was inherited by his nephews. At his death, Jacob Stern took over the control of the company.