Putting your old jeans to good use and learning some Jewish history, too


Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer

Supporting women every day is just part of the shared missions of the National Council of Jewish Women St. Louis, and Procure at City Foundry STL. Procure is a new type of shopping experience that supports a collection of small, women-owned brands. The two organizations are teaming up throughout the months of April and May to celebrate all things denim.

What’s so Jewish about denim?

You probably have heard the name Levi Strauss. He’s what is so Jewish about denim.

While Strauss did not “invent” what is now known worldwide as “Levi’s,” he was responsible for their success. In 1847, at age 18, Loeb (known as Levi) Strauss, the youngest of seven children of Bavarian Jews, emigrated to New York, where his older brothers had established the family dry goods business.

Levi Strauss became an American citizen in January 1853. He joined his two older brothers and sister Fanny in San Francisco to establish a branch of the business there. After opening his own shop in downtown San Francisco, he brought in Fanny’s husband, David Stern, to help him run the business.

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

By his mid-thirties, Levi Strauss had become a Jewish community leader, supporting San Francisco’s Temple Emanu-el.

In 1872, when he was approached by Jacob Davis, a Nevada tailor who had developed a new process for securing the seams of denim pants — which were already popular with miners, ranchers, and farmers — by riveting them at the pockets and the base of the button fly.

Davis could not afford the $81 needed to apply for a patent for his riveting process, so he asked Strauss if he would pay the fee and share the patent. Strauss brought Davis to San Francisco to oversee the manufacturing of the new “jeans.” The riveted jean quickly developed a reputation for durability and quality, and Levi Strauss and Company soon employed several hundred sewing workers.

Even as his company grew in size, Strauss insisted that his employees, whatever their position in the company, call him Levi, rather than Mr. Strauss. When he died peacefully at home at age 73, the city of San Francisco declared a business holiday so that the community’s business leaders could attend the funeral at Temple Emanu-el.

NCJWSTL and Procure

Now, through the end of May, Procure is collecting used denim at the shop, and in exchange, those who donate will be given 10% off of their next purchase at Procure.

For those who cannot make it into the shop or do not have denim to donate but want to support the work of NCJWSTL, and shop local, Procure will be donating 5% of all online sales and give free shipping to everyone who uses the code “NCJWSTL.”

“Anytime we can partner with a business that is working to improve the lives of women in the St. Louis area, we all benefit,” said Jessica Duneman, director of retail operations at NCJWSTL. “We are thrilled to be the beneficiary of not only a percentage of sales from Procure but the denim donations as well. Those donations will allow us to continue our work in the community through the works of our Resale Shop and our programs and projects. And as always, donating your unwanted denim is just another way to be green and help protect our planet.”

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