When did American cowboys stop wearing Levi jeans?
They haven’t all stopped wearing Levis, but the jeans aren’t as popular with cowboys today for several reasons.
Ironically, cowboys didn’t wear them in the earlier days either, Old West expert James Dunham says. Cowboys avoided Levi jeans because they were considered poor man’s wear, as they were mainly worn by gold miners, farmers and the lower classes. Sometime around 1900, many cowboys changed from wool or tight-fitting “California foxed pants” and corduroy pants to the rugged Levis.
In recent years, the politics of Levi Strauss & Co. have become increasingly liberal, as it has pursued laws against individual firearm ownership and has declared rodeo as cruel to animals.
The company also marketed its jeans to the Yuppie crowd and others of their ilk. Wrangler now fills the void and is a major supporter of rodeo.
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His books include The Arizona Trilogy and Law of the Gun.
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