The original Levi Strauss jeans made for the Sierra gold miners were made of Hemp canvas (sail-cloth).
Levi Strauss, the man who gave the world blue jeans, was born in 1829 in Bavaria.
In 1843, young Levi sailed from Bremerhaven to New York where his two older brothers, had already established a successful wholesale textile and tailoring business.
He spent the next five years learning the language and the ways of his new homeland. For several years he walked the roads of Kentucky, selling cloth from a back pack. In 1853 he returned to New York upon hearing reports of gold being discovered in California.
He persuaded his two brothers to provide him with a supply of silk, cloth and a few luxury items which he planned to sell in San Francisco. In addition he took a supply of canvas intended for the Conestoga Wagons used by many gold prospectors to cross the continent. In 1850 he took a ship for San Francisco. By the time he reached California he had sold everything to fellow passengers, except for the canvas.
A gruff old prospector chided young Strauss for not having brought along a supply of pants, because prospecting for gold was rough on pants. Strauss cut his canvas and stitched it into trousers that were an instant success and were known as “Levis”.