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HIGH LIFE : Tell Me, Who Was That Jeans Genie?

January 30, 1988

Cecil Adams, whose "The Straight Dope" column has appeared in alternative newspapers since 1973, answered the following letter:

"Who invented Levi's jeans?"

"A Russian immigrant named Jacob Davis invented the Levi's jean," Adams replied. "Working as a tailor in Reno, Davis hit upon the crucial concept of the riveted seam--a dramatic advance in work clothes technology that doubled the durability of the product.

"In 1870, Davis approached the wholesale company that sold him his denim, offering to sell the West Coast rights to his riveted jeans in exchange for the cost of securing a patent--a matter, in those days, of $68. The wholesaler was Levi Strauss, and the rest is history.

"Davis joined the company in 1873, presiding over the final design of the product. His two primary contributions were the orange thread used in all stitching (to match the copper rivets) and the inimitable curved stitches (known as 'arcuate' in the trade) on the back pockets."

"Stuffed deer heads on walls are bad enough, but it's worse when they are wearing dark glasses and have streamers and ornaments in their antlers because then you know they were enjoying themselves at a party when they were shot."

--Ellen Degeneres, comedienne

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