Denim Named Official Fabric Of California

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Those old blue denim jeans in your closet are a state symbol.

Governor Jerry Brown just signed a bill naming denim as the official fabric of California.

It’s fitting given the state is the birthplace of Levi Strauss. The company first patented its iconic blue denim jeans in San Francisco back in 1873.

Levi Strauss jeans hanging on display at a Levi's store (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Levi Strauss jeans hanging on display at a Levi’s store (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Tommy Mierzwinski owns Two Jacks, a denim shop in uptown Oakland. He says his suppliers tell him 98 percent of American-made jeans are made in San Francisco and Los Angeles. He named his shop after two famous Californians.

“Jack Kerouac and Jack London, and it’s appropriate because like denim, they’re American icons,” says Mierzwinski.

But despite all the nostalgia, KPIX 5 political analyst Melissa Caen says California isn’t really the birthplace of denim.

“The fabric of denim is widely believed to have been invented in Italy many hundreds of years ago and in Genoa,” she says. “And technically, Levi Strauss’s tailor, Jacob Davis made the famous jeans in Nevada.”

Caen says there’s a plaque in Reno, along with other roadside attractions, commemorating that swatch of denim history.

But that won’t stop Levi Strauss’s famous jeans from remaining icons at Two Jacks says Mierzwinski.

“I sell 11 different brands of jeans in the shop,” he says, “and they are all descendants of Levi’s.”

He says Governor Brown’s wife has visited Two Jacks but she didn’t buy a pair. She told Mierzwinski, the governor doesn’t wear them.


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