The Levi 501 jeans were once the “best-selling item of clothing in the world.” Levi Strauss & Co. was set up in the 1850s as a wholesaler but after receiving a patent for the copper rivets used to strengthen jeans – done in conjunction with the innovator Jacob Davis – their focus was clear.
The famous best-selling 501’s were only first sold in the 1890s which was preceded by their flagship product, jean overalls. As has almost always been the case the youth saw another, far more dignified, use for this labour attire: rock and hippie festivals. At the same time, the ‘blue jean’ fever was spreading which was accompanied by the ‘stone washing’ technique of making new jeans look old and worn.
After many, many years at the top cheaper competitors and global trade had an impact on Levi’s industry domination. There were also a lot of issues raised with the conditions of their factory workers and the labour used to produce their goods after their efforts to compete led them to offshore factories.
Although a long way from their peak Levi’s had an undeniable impact on the fashion world and you will have a very tough time finding a person that has not felt the denim touch.