Nevada February 01, 2020
Few People Know That Nevada Is The True Birthplace Of Blue Jeans
It turns out that Nevada was the birthplace of many inventions that are considered commonplace items today, ranging from hard hats for construction workers to video slot machines (surprise, surprise.) But did you know that Nevada was the TRUE birthplace of blue jeans, as well? Based out of San Francisco, Levi Strauss & Co. are largely credited for creating denim jeans as we know them today. However, the history of blue jeans actually starts in the city of Reno, Nevada. Check it out:
Most people associate the invention of blue jeans with Levi Strauss, which technically isn't incorrect. However, it turns out the actual person responsible for the invention of denim jeans was none other than a Nevadan by the name of Jacob W. Davis.
An immigrant who traveled to the U.S. from Latvia, Davis was a tailor who lived in both Virginia City and Reno during the 1860s. Davis was extremely good at his craft and was known for making tents, horse blankets, and wagon covers using heavy duty cotton and "denim" fabric which he purchased from Levi Strauss in San Francisco.
As the story goes, one of Davis' customers came to him with a special request to create a pair of pants for her husband who was apparently too large for typical ready-made clothes. She asked that the pants be made as strong as possible so that they wouldn't tear.
As a result, Davis used copper rivets that were typically used for horse blankets in order to fasten the pockets in a way that they wouldn't easily tear. This was the first pair of what would soon become some of the most popular pants in the world.
Davis' special pants became highly requested by workers in need of heavy duty clothing, and it eventually got to a point that Davis feared his design would be stolen from him. He wanted to patent his design but lacked the funds, so he asked Levi Strauss to help him pay for the patent. The two were granted an official U.S. patent in 1873, and the rest is pretty much history!
Although classic denim pants are often associated with Strauss, it was really Davis who came up with the characteristics that are so iconic to Levi's blue jeans. Davis even made the decision to use a double orange thread—a design feature that is still in use by Levi Strauss and Company today.
Davis worked with Strauss overseeing the production of his iconic blue jeans until his death in 1908. Today, the only physical reminder of this fascinating piece of Nevada history is a small plaque in front of Davis' original tailor shop at 211 N. Virginia Street in Reno.
Did you know that Nevada was the birthplace of blue jeans? We learn something new about the Silver State every single day! Check out more fascinating tidbits of Nevada inventions when you read about
12 Things That Most People Don’t Know Come From Nevada.