NYT: George W. Bush: "There will be no bluejeans in the Oval Office." James Brown: "Mr. Brown does not admit visitors wearing bluejeans." George Will: "Denim is the infantile uniform of [the] nation."

In 1853, during the heart of the gold rush, a Bavarian émigré named Levi Strauss arrived in San Francisco from New York, looking to expand his family’s East Coast dry-goods business. Among his wares were blankets, cloth by the yard and durable work pants, sometimes called “jeans pants.” Then in 1872, one of Strauss’s customers, a tailor named Jacob Davis, made him the offer that would change his fortunes — and the way Americans dressed — forever. Davis had been buying Strauss’s blue denim and duck cloth to sew “waist-overalls” and had perfected a method of reinforcing them with the same copper rivets he used on horse blankets.

Regardless of brand, jeans have reflected the mood of the country since the moment they were introduced. And like all truly revolutionary products, jeans have inspired adoration, outrage and everything in between.