From Miners to Movie Stars
In the mid-1800s, two European Jews immigrated to the United States in search of better lives. Jacob Davis, who was born Jacob Youphes in Latvia, settled in Nevada and opened a tailor shop to support his family. Loeb Strauss, who would later be known by his nickname “Levi,” left Bavaria for New York to join his two brothers in their dry goods business. Sensing opportunity in the California Gold Rush, he moved to San Francisco in 1853 to start his own company, Levi Strauss & Co.
Little did Strauss know, he’d soon be making history with one of his clients—Jacob Davis. One day, a miner’s wife came to Davis and asked him to make a sturdy pair of pants for her husband, complaining that his pockets frequently tore when he put gold nuggets in them. This was his eureka moment—he decided to reinforce the pockets and other stress points with the copper rivets he used to strengthen horse harnesses. Davis was soon selling hundreds of pairs, and became alarmed when other tailors began copying his design. Not having enough money to apply for a patent, he wrote to Strauss, who he bought fabric from, suggesting that they form a partnership.
The two men took out the patent together in 1873, and Davis moved to San Francisco to oversee production of the new pants. Not long afterward, they switched from white duck cloth to blue denim—blue doesn’t show dirt as easily—and the modern blue jean was born. Strauss and Davis, immigrants from humble backgrounds, had created what would later become the most popular type of clothing in the world.
immigrate (v.) 移民，遷移
miner (n.) 礦工
reinforce (v.) 加強
partnership (n.) 合夥關係，合作