Who knew some jeans could be so influential over generations?
Levi Strauss, a Jewish immigrant of Bavaria, came to America with his family at the mere age of 18 in 1847. He worked as a peddler on the streets of New York, making sure to be home on Friday nights to celebrate the Sabbath. He saw opportunity with the Gold Rush and headed West to San Francisco with a vision in 1853. Soon, he, his brother-in-law, and Jacob Davis partnered, creating heavy cotton pants with rivets durable enough to sustain the working man–miners, teamsters, farmers. Not even two horses could rip apart these pants.
My Grandma Twilla worked in a dress shop for over 35 years. A shop owned by a longtime family in my small hometown. Betty Hansen started selling Levi’s in the local grocery store, named “Hansen’s,” circa the 1970s. Soon, Betty’s Levi’s grew into a larger fashion venture, “Hansen’s Villa.” Not long after, Grandma began working for her until the day she died. Customer service was highly touted. I can still smell the wafting perfumed air amidst beautiful garments and the classic coach showcased in the middle of the boutique. Grandma’s classy farmgirl charm kept repeat clients returning. Clients from the not so far away Chicago returned to buy the perfect outfit for special occasions. I still have some choice pieces from Grandma’s closet, including a now very vintage Christian Dior sweater I will keep until I am no longer present in this world. It’s not just fashion; it’s family.
My father was a working man. He spent his 20’s in factories and his career as an electrician, often in oil refineries. Whether he wore his jeans on the job site or his cutoffs during a Summer gig while Mom watched with friends, he typically wore (and still wears) a pair of Levi’s. Mom being a tomboy and teen of the 70’s loved wearing pants, especially those with that bell bottom flair. They held up longer than a skirt. Grandma Blatti being a bit frugal with a full house of family (I suppose I understand now as an adult) never felt keen on splurging for clothes, so Mom worked and paid for her own Levi’s. Like most of her possessions, she often had to hide them from her brothers, too. She doesn’t need to hide them anymore.
Even though I come from working middle class, I am fortunate to have not wanted for much. However, I’m not afraid of working hard. I thrive on challenges, like starting my own side hustle business. The grand dream would be to make it a full time endeavor, but first steps first. I don’t know why the thought didn’t hit me sooner, but Levi’s will be a bread and butter staple in My MetalGlam Closet. Obviously, Rockstars rock Levi’s.
I also adore the steps in textile sustainability Levi Strauss & Co. adopt. After months spent combing thrift stores for the right pieces, I firsthand see how much waste we produce as an American society. Fast fashion needs to end. We see at most 20% of all the textiles donated. The large majority gets sent to landfills. As the low-key environmentalist I am, this breaks my heart. Additionally, washing textiles typically requires water, and coal energy to heat water. Levi’s implores customers to extend the lifespan of their clothes by washing less and repairing more. Quality can last for generations.
Quality never goes out of style.