Loeb Strauss, whose name was later changed to Levi, was born on February 26, 1829, in Buttenheim Bavaria in Germany. He was born to his Jewish parents Hirsch Strauss and his second wife, Rebecca Haas Strauss. His father, was a dry goods peddler who traveled around the country selling dry goods. Hirsch Strauss had five other children Jacob, Jonas, Louis, Rosla and Mathilde from his first wife, who had died several years earlier. Loeb and his older sister Fanny were the two children Hirsch had with his second wife. In 1845 Hirsch died of tuberculosis. After this, the already poor Strauss family became much poorer because there was no income. At this time two of Levi?s older brothers Jonas and Louis left for America. Two years later, Rebecca and the other children left on a boat for New York. When Levi got to New York, he was taught the ways of pedaling by his brothers, who had already started a dry goods business called J. Strauss Brother & Co.
In 1848 Levi moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where he sold goods from his brother’s store. In 1853 he returned to New York upon hearing gold had been discovered in California. He persuaded his two brothers to provide him with a supply of silk, cloth, and a few luxury items, which he planned to sell in San Francisco. He also took a supply of canvas, which he intended to use to make tents, and wagon covers to sell to prospectors who were crossing the continent. In January of 1853 Levi became a United States citizen, and by March of the same year he arrived in San Francisco, by the time he landed, Levi had sold all his goods to passengers on the ship except for the canvas.
When Levi Strauss got to San Francisco, he opened up a dry goods store under his own name representing his family?s New York firm. The name of his firm was "Levi Strauss." At this time the companies main products were the dry goods shipped to it from New York, but this was about to change. While here, a local miner asked if he sold pants. Levi, being a keen business man, decided to make pants from the rolls of canvas originally brought over to make tents, Levi?s were born. When Levi ran out of canvas, his brothers sent him a new fabric called denim. Denim was a soft, durable fabric, which was more comfortable and easier to wear than canvas.
The first address of the firm was ninety Sacramento Street, in the 1850s this location was very close to the waterfront, which was good for receiving and selling the goods that arrived by ship from his brothers. In 1856 Levi moved the business to 62 Sacramento Street and then to 63 & 65 Sacramento as its trade and reputation expanded. In 1861 the business relocated to 317 & 317 Sacramento Street, and in 1863 the company was renamed "Levi Strauss & Co." Then in 1866 Levi moved the again, to a larger headquarters at 14-16 Battery Street, where it remained for the next forty years.
In 1872, Levi received a letter from Jacob Davis, a tailor in Reno, Nevada. Davis was one of Levi Strauss? regular customers; he purchased large quantities of cloth from the company to use for his own business. In the letter Davis told of an interesting way that he made pants for his customers. Davis placed metal rivets on the points of strain on the pants. Davis didn?t have the money to patent his process, so he suggested that Levi pay for the paperwork and that they take out the patent together. Levi was enthusiastic about the idea and the patent was granted to both men on May 20, 1873.
Jeans were important to the people of this time, especially ranchers, cowhands, railroad workers, and miners. This was because they were so strong and didn?t ware out easily. So people who didn?t make a lot of money didn?t have to continually buy new pants.
Levi Strauss began to step away from day to day business at the end of the nineteenth century. He left it to his four nephews Jacob, Sigmund, Louis and Abraham to run. In 1890, Levi and his nephews officially incorporated the company, though by this time he had begun to concentrate on other business and philanthropic pursuits.
During the week of September 22, 1902 Levi began to complain of ill health, but by Friday evening the 26th, he felt well enough to attend the family dinner at the home on Leavenworth Street which he shared his sister?s family. He awakened briefly in the night, and said to the nurse that he felt “as comfortable as I can under the circumstances." Then, peacefully, he died.