All the way back in 2008 (when the world seemed a much saner place), we praised one of the most influential inventors of all time. The legacy of Levi Strauss, the man credited with the invention of jeans, has lasted for over a century. Just look at the tag on your pants.
Alas, we might have been too quick to the draw with Strauss, and will now remedy that mistake. Even though Strauss gets most of the credit, the real inventor of jeans was Jacob Davis... make that Jacob Youhpes, originally from Riga, Latvia.
After immigrating to America, Jacob changes his name and became a tailor. He eventually moved to California and bought some cloth from Levi Strauss & Co. Davis initially made tents and horse blankets, and used rivets to make them hold up stronger.
In 1870, a woman entered Davis' shop with a huge problem. She had a rather obese husband, whose pants kept ripping. So Davis decided to add rivets to pants, and — voila! — jeans were born.
When Davis' great idea started to be copied, he went to his cloth supplier to help him obtain the patent as 50-50 partners. Strauss hired Davis to run his factory, which he did until his death in 1908.
So why is Davis' contribution mostly forgotten? Well, people loved jeans so much, and Levi Strauss' company sold them, so "Levi's" stuck. But it all started with a Jewish tailor from Latvia...