Levis, Once Mandatory Wear In Alaska Gold Rush, Being Replaced By Pajama Bottoms

Jeans Of The Gold Rush   Jeans seem to have lost their luster during the coronavirus pandemic. As people have begun staying at home and we...

Jeans Of The Gold Rush  

Jeans seem to have lost their luster during the coronavirus pandemic. As people have begun staying at home and wearing elastic waistbands and stretchy pants (which can't be viewed under the screen on Zoom meetings) they have abandoned durable, tight blue jeans that remind you when you're putting on weight and convey a sense of fashion that's not needed when nobody else is around. 

Jeans Were Popular In The 1800's & Also A Hundred Years Later.

As a result, Levi Strauss, the workhorse and great-granddaddy of the American jean industry, has had a 62% drop in 2nd quarter revenue and cut 15% of its corporate workforce.

Overall, what with the serious job losses, networking from home, and no need to impress other people in the office or outside the house, clothes sales overall have dropped 40% this year. Even Walmart is selling shirts, but nowhere near as many pants.

Levi Strauss' jean company had its start in the Gold Rush – but not "our" gold rush up here in Alaska.

It began during the California Gold Rush. Levi, the founder of the company, was a German immigrant. His father died of tuberculosis when he was 16 and his remaining family came to New York City and started a dry goods business, which he expanded to San Francisco to supply miners for the California Gold Rush. In 1853, paying attention to the needs of the California prospectors, Strauss began making trousers for them out of durable heavy brown cloth – something like the brown duck pants we now call "Carhartts."

In 1873, one of his tailors invented the blue jean, made of blue denim. That was about the same time that the copper rivet was invented for the pockets, to make the new blue jeans sturdier. The rest was history – for an entire century.

Levi jeans were worn by miners who came north in the late 1890s during the Klondike Gold Rush. They were prized because they were so durable.

In the 1980s, 100 years after the Alaska Gold Rush, a couple named Alf and Marlene Roberts were digging around near the Klondike gold fields and came across two pairs of century-old Levi-made pants (along with some mammoth tusks and bison teeth). They found a brown duck pair and a blue jean denim pair. The denims proved their durability. They still had the blue jean Levi Strauss & Company label.

In 1897, one of the first Sears, Roebuck catalogs sold similar blue jeans by mail – for 35 cents a pair. Even with inflation, that was a real deal. Today, 35 cents is the equivalent of $10.87.


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