On May 20, 1873, a historic event occurred for the world of fashion. Almost 150 years ago, fabric wholesaler Levi Strauss and his partner Jacob Davis, a tailor, entered the patent office in San Francisco, United States, to register jeans, a garment initially intended for miners, laborers, cowboys and farmers. That trouser incorporated a revolutionary accessory to reinforce the pockets: the copper rivets. The garment, today, is an icon of global clothing and is considered "the second skin" for Argentines.
In its origins, jeans were a symbol of hard work that were tear-proof. Made from two types of canvas fabrics (brown and bluish), it rose to popularity 7 years later, in 1890, when the young company Levi's (today a multinational listed on the stock exchange) launched the 501 model, which remains in force today. It is estimated that today 6,000 million are sold worldwide and around 60 million in the country.
It is a very democratic garment and its prices range from $ 6,000 to $ 40,000, in the high-end segment, "explains Carlos Peñarrocha, CEO of Alpargatas, one of the main manufacturers of denim fabrics in the local market. The company competes with Mexico's Santista, Brazil's Vicunha and Santana and national's Fibraltex. Among the most popular brands are Levi's, Kosiuko, Taverniti, Tascani and Bensimon.
The Strauss-Davis duo was introducing improvements, such as the double arc of stitches in the pockets to position the brand. Then came the loops for the belt (1922), the closures as an alternative to the buttons (1954) and their adoption by haute couture houses. At the end of the 70s, Fiorucci launches the first Buffalo jeans, tight and with dark tones like the "chupines" of today, but contrary to the "flared" that were used at that time. Fashions never quite die.
The big leap was in 1976, when Calvin Klein incorporated its first jeans into its collections and elevated them to another rank with its head model, Brooke Shields. Designer Gloria Vanderbilt continued the trend in 1979 and her "casual" style pants were a commercial success. Currently, almost all luxury brands, including Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Louis Vuitton, use it to captivate the young high-income generations. "I have often said that I wish I had invented jeans," admitted Yves Saint Laurent himself, in November 1983.
The creation of Levi's dismantled dress standards. The company (Levi Strauss & Co) was founded by a young German immigrant, in 1853, during the Californian gold rush. In his store he sold wholesale clothes, boots and all kinds of items, and also cotton pants (the predecessor of the current jean) whose pockets were broken by the hustle and bustle of the users. The "invention" of the rivet changed everything. Levi's has its own museum in its hometown: San Francisco.
Image of Levi's Strauss, in the beginning of the company, in San Francisco.
The patent expired in 1890, in parallel with the release of the Model 501. Since then, other manufacturers replicated the model and well-known brands emerged, such as OshKosh B'Gosh (1895), Blue Bell (later renamed Wrangler) in 1904, and Lee Mercantile, in 1911, whose Union-All f model became popular among workers during World War I.
Blue jeans is a standard generated 100 years ago. It was their foray into Hollywood that idealized them in the 20s and associated them with avant-garde and aspirational glamour, ideal for seducing young audiences. In 1939, John Wayne wore the famous "cowboys" with hem in the movie "The Stagecoach", which was just the beginning. Because he uses them in almost every westerns he starred in.
Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum appear in jeans in the 1954 film River of No Return.
Later, Marlon Brando and James Dean, two legends of cinema, adopted them to convey the image of young rebels until in the late 60s, rock bands and artists (from Bob Dylan to the Rolling Stones) consolidated them within the counterculture environment. Over the years, the garment evolved and globalized in such a way that it forever redefined the parameters of "good dress". In 1999, Time magazine called it the "fashion article of the twentieth century."
They were wide, narrow, high or low waist, dark, light, iridescent, worn, wide and tight, sober and provocative. But always indispensable in formal dress or everyday use. The term jean was born in 1800, that is, before jeans, and refers to the cotton twill used in the manufacture of trousers. The history of Levi's deserves a separate chapter, although it is worth mentioning some facts.
The brand landed in Argentina in 1971, with the opening of its first subsidiary. Since then, with different business models, it never ceased to have a presence. Today it has a chain of 38 branches distributed throughout the country, of which 4 operate under the outlet format. As part of the 150th anniversary, Levi's launched a year-long global advertising campaign.
So far, he has presented three commemorative short films. The first piece "Precious Cargo" tells the story of how jeans came to Kingston, Jamaica, in the 70s. The second was "Fair Exchange" tells the story of a young man who traded his family's cow for a pair of Levi's 501s. And finally, the spot "Legends Never Die", which portrays the life of an unconditional fan of the brand who asked to be buried with his jeans.
End of mystery: what is the smallest jean pants pocket for?