A company that was started with Levi Strauss in 1853 by opening a dry-goods business as a wholesaler has risen to impeccable heights. From selling merchandise to stores in the West, Levi Strauss & Co. based in San Francisco manufactured the first pair of denim jeans with the business partner Jacob Davis in 1872.
Over the past 153 years of being in the market, the company is an intriguing example for historians to unveil its success. A huge amount of records in the form of clothing, historic tapes, photographs as well as letters from the customers are being studied to trace the expanse and success of the company.
It is the delicate and detailed creases and discreet buckle-back cinch that attracts people towards the oldest pair of Levi’s denim jeans. The beautifully adorned piece of clothing is handled wearing gloves by the inspectors so that no body oil sweeps into the legendary fabric.
The creation of archives of Levi’s dates back to 1989. It was the great-great grandnephew of Levi Strauss under whose behest it all started. Lynn Downey, a researcher working to trace the history of Levi’s, started off with a collection of 200 pieces. Now, the collection sums up to 5,000 clothing pieces, 4500 photographs, 400 linear feet of documents and 750 linear feet of marketing material along with 500 posters and 300 artifacts. The earthquake in 1906 destroyed a lot of material at Levi’s headquarters on Battery Street in the Financial District except the ones thrown in the vault by men in fury during the incident.
The oldest pair of jeans is carefully tucked inside a drawer of a refrigerator-like fireproof vault, covered in a white cloth. According to Downey, the jeans were bought for $ 40,000 by her. The same vault contains other 501 old jeans from late 19th century and early 20th century.
This oldest pair of jeans was showcased at Levi’s Fall 2011 Fashion preview.
[SOURCES: ecouterre.com, sfgate.com, inhabitat.com]