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If there's one thing most people wish they had the ability to invent, it's something that never goes out of style. But when Levi Strauss moved from Bavaria to New York with his mother and two sisters in 1847, he had no idea how much denim jeans would eventually influence American culture.
The actual heritage of jeans dates back to 17th-century Europe and denim is one of the world's oldest fabrics. But it was Strauss and a business partner who found a way to re-invent the material in the U.S. By 1850, Strauss had set up a branch of his family business in San Francisco and sold, among other things, work pants. A tailor from Nevada, Jabob Davis had the idea to strengthen pants with metal rivets but no money for a patent so he formed a partnership with Strauss. This was an idea that Strauss knew could make money and he began to call them overalls.
Eventually, partly due to the wearing of these pants in cowboy films, Levi's became more associated with having fun than working hard. The actual re-branding to the term jeans happened in the 1960s and it will likely continue to be a household word for countless years to come. The story offers a moral to all inventors as it was Strauss' good business sense that catapulted the idea into stardom. All good inventors must know when the time is ripe for commercial ventures.