As a company, we've seen the world go from horse drawn carriages to the electric car, from the chaos of war to space, peace, independence and freedom, and from the telegraph to speed of light Internet communications.
Levi Strauss & Co. is 159 years old! We can proudly say that LS&CO. makes the only garment created in the 19th century that is still worn today. And we still have the same youthful, high hopes as ever. This is our legacy and gift to the future, and as you go through our site and read more about our astonishing history, stop a moment to think about a young, immigrant merchant Levi Strauss, whose name we honor because he started it all.
Levi Strauss & Co. was founded in 1853. For its first 100 years, as today, LS&CO. was a private company. Relatives of its founder owned almost all of its stock and company employees held virtually all of the remaining shares. In 1971, to finance further growth and diversification, the company traded shares publicly, though descendants of the founder retained a controlling interest of the outstanding shares.
In August 1985 the publicly held shares were repurchased in one of the largest leveraged buyout transactions in U.S. history for a total of $1.6 billion. In 1996, the company strengthened its status as a privately owned company by purchasing employee-held shares as well.
Today, the company is owned by descendants of the family of founder Levi Strauss. Shares of company stock are not available for public trading, except in Japan, where stock of Levi Strauss Japan K.K. is publicly traded.
Levi Strauss was a Bavarian immigrant who arrived in San Francisco in 1853. He planned to open a dry goods business similar to the one owned by his brothers in New York.
Levi built up a very successful business over the next 20 years. In 1873, he and Nevada tailor Jacob Davis patented the process of putting rivets in pants for strength, and Levi's® jeans were born.
When Levi Strauss died in 1902 his four nephews inherited a thriving company which was wholesaling a wide range of dry goods and manufacturing sturdy work clothes; including the "waist overalls" that we know today as jeans.