Jacob W. Dawis

Jacob W. Dawis

American tailor, inventor and entrepreneur
Country: USA

  1. Jacob Davis: The Man Who Revolutionized Clothing
  2. Biography

Jacob Davis: The Man Who Revolutionized Clothing

Jacob Davis, an American tailor, inventor, and entrepreneur, changed the world of clothing with his invention. He was the first to create work pants with metal rivets. This innovation was highly sought after for a long time, but eventually the rivets on the pockets had to be replaced with reinforced seams. They were removed to prevent scratching saddles and furniture. The rivets on the crotch area were also removed due to the uncomfortable sensation they caused when they heated up if a person stood too close to a fire.

Jacob W. Dawis


Jacob Davis, born Jacob Youphes, was born in 1831 in Riga, The Russian Empire. While living in Riga, Jacob learned the trade of tailoring and worked in the profession. In 1854, at the age of 23, he emigrated to the United States, where he settled in New York and changed his name to Jacob Davis. He managed several tailoring studios in New York before moving to Maine and then to San Francisco in 1856. Later, Jacob moved to Canada.

During his travels in America, Davis presumably worked as a hired tailor. In 1858, he left California and headed to Western Canada in search of better job opportunities. It was there that Jacob met Annie Parksher, a German immigrant, who became his wife. The couple had six children. While in Canada, Davis earned a living by panning for gold in the Fraser River. He also traded tobacco products and shipped pork wholesale to Virginia. In January 1867, Davis returned to San Francisco with his wife and children. That same year, the family moved to Virginia City, Nevada, where Jacob sold tobacco for several months before returning to tailoring. In 1868, the family moved once again to Reno, Nevada, which was a tiny town at the time. Davis helped Frederick Hertlein build a brewery. In 1869, Davis opened a studio on the main street in Reno, where he made tents, harnesses, and material for covered wagons for the Central Pacific Railroad workers. Davis worked with heavy-duty natural cotton backed with paper and denim, which he purchased from Levi Strauss & Co. Instead of just sewing one piece of fabric to another, he started using metal rivets for the first time.

It all began in the early 1870s when one of Davis' clients asked him to make a pair of sturdy work pants for her lumberjack husband. Davis used heavy-duty fabric and decided to reinforce the seams with rivets for extra strength. He also used rivets to attach pockets to the pants. The invention was well-received by the railroad workers, and the number of orders increased dramatically. Soon, Jacob began sewing pants out of denim and wanted to patent his idea with the rivets.

However, Davis did not have enough money for the patent, so he wrote a letter to Levi Strauss, the inventor of jeans, asking for financial assistance. Strauss agreed, and on May 20, 1873, a patent was issued for the use of metal rivets. In the first year alone, Strauss managed to sell at least 21,000 pairs of pants and jackets with rivets. Levi opened a large studio in San Francisco, and Jacob moved back to the city with his family to assist with the launch. The demand continued to grow, and the studio expanded into a full-fledged factory under Davis' management. He continued to work at the factory until the end of his life, overseeing not only the production of pants but also other garments, including shirts and denim overalls. Jacob Davis passed away in San Francisco in 1908.

In 2006, a memorial plaque was installed in Reno, on the site where Davis' studio once stood, in honor of the jeans with rivets invented by the American tailor.