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The man who gave denim to Spain dies aged 98

The man who gave denim to Spain, Manuel Sáez Merino, has died at the age of 98 at his home in Valencia.

His death was announced by the City Council of Millares, his hometown, on Wednesday, October 26 saying that he had passed away on Monday.

Merino along with his brother Joaquín pioneered the use of denim in Spain turning the Lois brand into an international icon.

Developed during the Franco regime and before the arrival of the American multinational Levis, Lois became the leading denim brand in Spain.

Starting out in a humble family store in their hometown of Millares in the early 50s, the brothers manufactured the denim clothes themselves using a second-hand loom.

With the market for denim growing, the pair launched the Lois brand in 1962, after which it achieved strong growth expanding across Europe and into America and Japan.

Manuel Sáez Merino – credit saezmerino sa

Merino understood the need to market the brand and as a result dressed the likes of Dutch footballer Johan Cruyff, Swedish tennis star Björn Borg and British Formula 1 driver James Hunt.

He also dressed musicians including Rod Stewart and Swedish supergroup Abba.

A statement issued by the City Council of Millares acknowledged the brother’s contribution to his hometown, with a road having been renamed in their honour.

They said: “Manuel and his brothers always knew how to carry with pride and satisfaction the name of their hometown.

“On a personal level, he was a man of affable conversation who loved to enjoy the company of his countrymen and, especially, of his childhood and youth friends in his short visits to his hometown, where he was happy sharing with them a magnificent pan of gazpachos or a good plate of rice with herbs.”

The man who gave denim to Spain some 70 years ago will always be remembered in his hometown and across Spain, despite the influx of brands in recent times.


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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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