Levi Strauss & Co.


yahir avalos, contributor

Levi Strauss & Co. is an American clothing company known worldwide for its Levi’s brand of denim jeans. The company was founded back in 1853 when German Immigrant, Levi Strauss came to the San Fransisco during the Gold Rush. Bringing dry goods for sale to miners he also heard of the miners’ need for durable pants, Strauss hired a tailor to make garments out of tent canvas. Later, denim was substituted, and copper riveting was added to pocket seams. The first merchandising partnership was with his brothers, Jonas and Louis in 1853. The company started to slowly grow over the years. Strauss later died in 1902 passing the company on to his four nephews and after 1918 to his in-laws.  The company’s most spectacular growth occurred after 1946 when it decided to abandon wholesaling and concentrate on manufacturing clothing under its own label. By the 1960s, Levi’s and other jeans had become popular worldwide. When the company went public in 1971, it was operating in 50 countries. In 1985 the Haas family, along with other descendants of Levi Strauss, staged a leveraged buyout that returned the company to private ownership. In 1986 Levi Strauss & Co. introduced in the United States a new line of casual pants called Dockers the brand was released in Europe in 1994.

Levi Strauss closed nearly 60 of its U.S. manufacturing plants and began shifting production overseas due to increasing competition and financial difficulties. during that time the company faced a lawsuit because they closed its plant in San Antonio, Texas, and relocated it to Costa Rica to avoid paying pension, disability, and other benefits to its workers. In 1991 an investigation revealed that some products that Levi Strauss had represented as made in the United States were actually manufactured in the Northern Mariana Islands by Chinese labourers working in illegal sweatshop conditions. The subcontractor managing the island factories was fined nearly $10 million by the U.S. government. The company later launched in 2003 the Signature by Levi Strauss & Co. brand, a more affordable line of jeans and casual wear, and in 2007 Levi Strauss partnered with the French company ModeLabs Group to develop a series of Levi’s-branded mobile telephones. The company’s retailers also sell other products like tailored slacks, jackets, hats, shirts, skirts, and belts, and it licenses the manufacture of novelty items. In 2011 Levi Strauss hired Chip Bergh as CEO. He was credited with turning the company around as he instituted various changes, such as modernizing its e-commerce division and expanding overseas markets. In March 2019 Levi Strauss went public again, and its IPO raised more than $620 million.

Source: Britannica

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