Levis Strauss & Co.
Founder: Levi Strauss
Location: San Fransisco
Originally producing denim overalls commercially in the 1870’s, it wasn’t till the 1920’s Denim jeans in form we see them today were produced by Levis. It was the patenting of Copper Rivets to add strength to the denim garments in 1873 which went on to see Levis develop its philosophy and brand around strength and wear.
While it was as early as the 1920’s that jeans in their modern sense were created by Levi’s, it wasn’t until the post World War 2 era that blue jeans became the staple they are today. The garment transposed themselves throughout so many sub cultures in the 1950’s and 60’s all of which lent of rebellious tones, all of which saw Levi’s 501 style become popularized.
Over the years the heritage and authenticity of Levis has been one of the label biggest assets. Examples of certain crucial yearly changes for the Levis line have been in in 1922 when men started wearing belts instead of suspenders so Levi’s started adding belt loops and removed the buttons for the braces. In 1944, the U.S. government demand that all businesses ration materials like fabric, thread and metal. So the 1944 LVC 501 was made without rivets on the watch pocket, crotch and cinch. The War Department also determined that the famous Levi’s back pocket stitching — called the Arcuate — was “decorative and a waste of thread” according to LS & CO Historian Lynn Downey. So rather than lose its trademark, Levi’s hand painted the Arcuate on every pair of Levi’s 501 WWII jeans. In 1947, the modern 501 appeared with a slimmed down fit and a machine applied (and uniform) Arcuate, with a diamond shape at the middle. Prior to the use of the double needle sewing machines, the back pocket stitching was done with a single needle machine and varied from jean to jean. In the 1950s instead of a leather two horse patch, they used a “leather like” patch because it was more expensive to get leather as they were now selling internationally. Another important date (and LVC model) is 1966. This is the year that bar tack technology became developed enough to create a stitch that was as strong as the traditionally used rivets. So starting in 1966, Levi’s did away with the back pocket rivets (which had a tendency to scratch things when you sat down) once and for all. 1966 was also known as the “Bob Dylan” era for Levi’s.
Under Levis Strauss & Co. is also the line called “XX” meaning “extra strong” to consolidate the company’s premium business. This group is in control of the Levi’s Big E LVC (Levi’s vintage clothing) line, the pieces are produced to exact historical specifications. This new division will be headed up by the well respected Maurizio Donadi, who is a veteran of both Diesel and RRL.