Levis Strauss was born in Germany in 1829. By the age of 16 both his parents had died so he decided to emigrate to the United States. He arrived in New York where he joined his two older brothers in the wholesale textile and tailoring business.
When Strauss heard about the Gold Rush he left for San Francisco. He planned to manufacture tents for those people arriving in California to work as miners. He discovered there was no demand for this product and instead used this canvas to make waist-high overalls. Later he switched from canvas to a tough cotton fabric from France called Serge de Nimes. This material eventually became known as denim. In 1860 Strauss strengthen the pockets of his trousers with copper rivets. In 1873 he patented these blue denim trousers that were now known as jeans.
Levi Strauss's jeans were popular with cowboys and farmers and he made a great deal of money from his business. Strauss was extremely generous and contributed to several San Francisco orphanages. He also paid for students to attend the University of California.
Levi Strauss never married and when he died in 1902 he left the company to four nephews.