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Levi Strauss Museum San Francisco

Levi Strauss Exhibition Coming To San Francisco Museum In 2020

Levi Strauss Exhibit at San Francisco’s Jewish Museum

Storied American jeans maker Levis will be the subject of an exhibition opening next year in San Francisco.

Levi Strauss: A History of American Style, on view Feb. 13 to Aug. 9, 2020 at The Contemporary Jewish Museum, will be the largest public display of Levi Strauss & Co.s archival materials ever assembled. Featuring more than 150 items , the exhibition will showcase the story of the Bavarian Jewish dry goods merchant in 19th-century San Francisco, the birth of his iconic blue jeans and its influence on American style and identity, according to press materials.

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The museums curators worked with the brand to mine pieces from the Levi Strauss & Co. archives, located at the companys headquarters in San Francisco.

In 1873, near the end of the Gold Rush, Levi Strauss obtained a U.S. patent with tailor Jacob Davis for the process of putting metal rivets in mens work pants to increase their durability. Strauss civic and philanthropic contributions were fundamental to San Franciscos municipal development, the exhibition will show, and the trajectory of the brand has reflected the changing American consciousness, from its initial emphasis on 19th-century miners and blue-collar laborers to its role in crafting the mythology of the American West in the early 20th century, to its impact on the rise of international youth culture in the Sixties and beyond.

Jake Gyllenhaal Brokeback Mountain 2005

Jake Gyllenhaal wore these clothes in Brokeback Mountain, a movie released in 2005. So simple, such classic western wear: a cowboy hat, white tee shirt, 501 Levi jeans, and boots, as popular then as now, with the Levi two-horse label. How did Levis get into Hollywood? It is universal and knows no boundaries.

Related: Colorful Exhibit Shows How Levis Jeans Became An American Icon

We also discussed what their story means for us as Jews, living in a diaspora as immigrants to this place, but trying to make it our own, said Ariel Luckey, co-founder of Jews on Ohlone Land.

There were no Ohlone people at the museum, but that was part of the point, said Laura Callen, a member of Jews on Ohlone Land. This gathering is specifically for Jews. Its about Jewish people speaking to Jewish people, she said.

Before the Levi Strauss exhibit opened, Jews on Ohlone Land contacted the Contemporary Jewish Museum to express concerns that the exhibit would valorize the Gold Rush without taking into account the harm done to native communities during that period.

It was a friendly exchange, according to Noily, and one that will continue after the Levi Strauss exhibit is over.

We are aware of concerns that narratives about the American West often omit the story of the immense suffering of indigenous people, said a statement from the museum. While the subject of the exhibition is the blue jean and Levi Strauss, a Jewish immigrant who built an iconic company headquartered in San Francisco, the CJMs presentation also explicitly acknowledges the dark and tragic aspects of American history during the gold rush-era, most notably the genocide of Native Americans.

Books on Levis and the history of the region available at the museum include The Ohlone Way: Indian Life in the San Francisco-Monterey Bay Area.

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Business Honoree Levi Strauss

Levi Strauss medal designed by Hal Reed, struck by Metal Arts in quantities of 400 bronze, 180 pure silver and 28 10kt gold. Obverse: Portrait, Everyone knows his first name, Levi Strauss , HR monogram. Reverse: Woodchopper, cowboy on horse, and gold panner, Levis logo. 47 x 45 mm.

Levi Strauss was 17 years old when he emigrated from Bavaria to New York in 1847. He worked for his two brothers, peddling clothing and household items throughout towns and villages in rural New York and Kentucky. Spurred on by exciting tales of opportunities for instant wealth in the California Gold Rush,, Strauss sailed to San Francisco on a clipper ship in 1850, loaded with canvas for tents and wagons. But after a short visit to the gold country, he realized there was a better use for the durable material. He took his unsold canvas to a tailor and had them fashioned into overalls. He later switched from canvas to a tough cotton fabric loomed in Nimes, France called serge de Nimes .

In the 1860s Jacob Davis, a tailor in Carson City, Nevada, began riveting the pocket corners on miners pants for added strength. Strauss liked the idea, and jointly with Davis applied for a patent, which was granted in 1873.

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Keith Haring Decorated Jeans The Passport Event Macys

Levi Strauss Museum, San Francisco, CA

The Passport Event was arranged by Macys in 2008 to benefit the AIDS and HIV program. White 501 jeans, more or less the same design as the jeans that were launched in1873, are covered in Keith Harings Radiant Baby design with a red heart. Keith Haring passed away in 1990 from AIDS but during his lifetime he used his platform to tackle many causes, including AIDs and HIV, so it is appropriate that one of his iconic designs was repurposed for this event.

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Levi Strauss: A History Of American Style

Through Aug. 9 at the CJM. The film American Jerusalem: Jews and the Making of San Francisco will be streamed continuously in the exhibits galleries. For information about the exhibit and related programs, visit

J. covers our community better than any other source and provides news you can’t find elsewhere. Support local Jewish journalism and give to J. today. Your donation will help J. survive and thrive!

Levi Strauss: A History Of American Style Re

On Saturday, April 17th, the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco re-opens its doors to the general public, which features the exhibit Levi Strauss: A History of American Style, showcasing the life of Levi Strauss, the birth and evolution of the blue jean and how Levis® has come to define American style in the U.S. and abroad. Dont miss out!

The Contemporary Jewish Museum presents Levi Strauss: A History of American Style, featuring more than 250 items from the Levi Strauss & Co. Archives, visitors will experience Levi Strauss & Co.s enduring impact with rarely before seen objects, including a suit owned by Lauren Bacall, Albert Einsteins LS& Co. leather jacket, an AMC Gremlin car with an interior upholstered completely in denim, and a custom ensemble worn by Lauryn Hill on her Miseducation tour.

Works in a variety of media will be on view, offering unprecedented access and insight into the life and work of Levi Strauss, his impact on the city of San Francisco and its Jewish community, as well as the ongoing influence of Levi Strauss & Co. on American and global style. Through the lens of a Jewish immigrant, visitors are invited to experience a timeless American story of ingenuity, perseverance, and success. The scope and sweep of the exhibition follows the arc of modern American history, revealing the synchronicity between the evolution of the blue jean and the trajectory of American pop culture.

Here are a few pieces to look out for:

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Mr David Denim Ballgown Design

Mr. Davids denim ruffled dress was my favorite item on the entire show and I marveled at the work. No dressmakers machine could stitch this fabric, so they must have used a heavy industrial machine. It looked like miles of ruffled denim had been cut and stitched I suppose it was many yards, not miles made into a glamorous evening gown. The fabric was studded with the historic copper rivets used on the 501 jeans. What I found most impressive was how this tough denim fabric was cut and then stitched into an elegant evening gown, fit for a drag queen. In fact. Mr. Davids drag persona was Glamamore.

I photographed this gown from every angle, and even now looking at the photographs, I cannot believe the craftsmanship that went into this item and how sophisticated and elegant a blue denim ballgown can be.

Levis Stories From The Vault Museum Go Virtual

San Francisco 49ers museum offers special look at storied franchise

In November 2018, The Vault Museum at Levis Plaza in San Francisco unveiled a new look that included the Tell Us Your Levis® Story Station, a kiosk that captured Levis® stories from fans. At the station, visitors were invited to listen to others stories or record their own memorable Levis® experiences. Those audio stories were then sent to museum staff usually me for review and posting.

Now, the Tell Us Your Levis® Story Station has gone virtual, opening up the station to a whole new audience online.

Levis® fans from around the world can now use the web-based story platform by Enwoven, a Bay Area technology start-up company. For example, stylist Phyllis Leibowitz, who has outfitted rockers like bandmembers from Def Leppard to Metallica for years, from her location in New York.

Since the launch of the Story Station, the platform has amassed almost 150 storiesand counting. These stories have not only become permanent parts of the Levi Strauss & Co. Archives each one helps me understand the shared history of a beloved brand and when, where and how our products have been used, who our fans are and how they live in Levis®.

Want to become part of the Levis® legacy? Tell Us Your Levis Story and record your own!

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The Best Of San Francisco

Food, drinks, fitness, and culture at your fingertips. Levis Plaza is an oasis situated on the Embarcadero, amid the vibrant neighborhoods of North Beach and Jackson Square.

Within a short walk of Piperade, Coqueta, Old Ship Saloon, Cotogna, Kokkari Estiatorio, Pier 23 Café, Grumpys Pub, The Bay Club, The Exploratorium, The Battery, Bright Horizons, Spoke & Weal, and more.

Find Out The Dates Here

Calling all Levis lovers: the beloved denim brand will be the subject of a San Francisco exhibition next year. According to WWD, the Contemporary Jewish Museum will be displaying archival pieces of the famed American jeans maker. The exhibition has been titled Levi Strauss: A History of American Style.

The exhibit will showcase more than 150 items including vintage clothing, advertisements and promotional materials, and items related to the life of the brands founder, Levi Strauss. In addition, guests will discover the story of the Bavarian Jewish dry goods merchant in 19th-century San Francisco, the origin of his iconic blue jeans, as well as how the wardrobe staple has influenced American style and shaped its identity.

The Levi Strauss: A History of American Style exhibition will be making its debut on February 13 and will run until August 9, 2020.

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Major Levi Strauss Exhibit Coming To San Francisco Jewish Museum

This February, San Franciscos Contemporary Jewish Museum is getting a denim makeover courtesy of Levi Strauss.

Levi Strauss: A History of American Style, an original exhibition showcasing the life of Levi Strauss and the worldwide phenomenon of the now iconic blue jean, comes to the CJM February 13 through August 9, 2020 to celebrate the cultural legacy of our founders invention. Featuring over 150 items from the Levi Strauss & Co. Archives, including garments, advertisements, photographs, and ephemera, The CJMs exhibition represents the largest public display of the companys archival materials ever assembled.

Im delighted about next years exhibition at the Contemporary Jewish Museum here in San Francisco where the company was born, said LS& Co. Historian Tracey Panek. It represents the largest public display of materials from the Levi Strauss & Co. Archives to date and in preparing for it, I even found a few hidden gems in our collection myself. Stay tuned!

This exhibition captures the essence of The CJMs mission, at once telling a story that is definitively Jewish, classically American, and deeply embedded in the cultural fabric of San Francisco, said Lori Starr, Executive Director of The CJM. Through a celebration of the birth of the blue jean, the exhibition shares the story of a hardworking Jewish immigrant who realized the American dream and inspired a style revolution that continues today.

The Birth Of The Blue Jean

Levi Strauss Museum, San Francisco, CA

A defining moment in the history of Levi Strauss occurred in May 1873: the official birth of the iconic Blue Jean.

This is the date on which a patent was issued to Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis for a metal rivet that would be used to re-enforce the weakest part of their working pants, known from here on as blue jeans.

This is how it came about: Jacob Davis, a tailor from Reno, Nevada, and also a Jewish Immigrant who emigrated from Riga, Latvia , had been tailoring working pants for the burgeoning mining community. The fabric he was using was supplied by Levi Strausss dry goods business.

Receiving complaints that the pants were ripping and not standing up to the rigors demanded by the gold miners, Jacob Davis found a way to place copper rivets in the corners of the pockets that stopped them from ripping and made the openings stronger and more secure to counteract the excessive wear. Wanting to patent his technique but being short of funds, he turned to Levi Strauss who by this time had a successful business and the two of them worked together on acquiring the patent for the rivet, With the new patent acquired, Davis moved to San Francisco to oversee the first manufacturing facility of blue jeans.

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The Einstein Leather Jacket

One of the most famous items on the exhibition and one of the most valuable is the Einstein leather jacket, once owned by Albert Einstein, the Nobel prize-winning physicist. This is the first time it has been on public display. When it came up for auction at Christies of London, in 2016, the bidding was brisk and fast, and the eventual hammer price was 90,000 British pounds when it was bought by Levi Strauss & Co for their archives.

Einstein loved wearing this jacket and looking closely, I would say it has done some mileage and been worn well. Its fame of course came from a Time magazine cover when Einstein was photographed wearing it in 1938. Displayed at Christies pre-Sale in London, it was shown together with the now-famous photograph by Lotte Jacobi who had been the photographer of the Time Magazine cover. At the CJM exhibition, it is again shown in a clear display box, housing the jacket and the photograph that made it famous.

The story of the Einstein jacket revealed he had purchased it in the US in 1935 while awaiting his naturalization papers before becoming a US Citizen. The same design is featured in the Levi Strauss catalog of the 1930s when it was known as the Menlo Cossak Jacket.

Following Christies sale, the worldwide publicity for this item was priceless, and the marketing department did not miss the opportunity to capitalize on promoting the story. The publicity created new demand and it was re-introduced into the catalog in a limited edition.

Levi Strauss Exhibit Comes To Contemporary Jewish Museum

Levi Strauss: A History of American Style, an exhibit at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, will run from February 13 to August 9. The exhibit will celebrate the birth of the blue jean, showcase the life of Levi Strauss, track the evolution of Levis from workwear into iconic fashion wear, and describe how the City of San Francisco inspired this style revolution.

Heres an exclusive interview with Heidi Rabben, one of the exhibits curators:

Bay Crossings: How did you work with Ms. Panek to put a show like this together? Can you describe the collaboration?

Heidi Rabben: My co-curator, Justin Limoges, and I were generously granted access to the archives to research the contents, and through that, to determine what kind of story we could tell. It became clear very quickly how selective we would need to be due to the wealth and diversity of objects in the archivesbut a clear story started to emerge through the materials we found.

In parallel, we sought to trace the evolution of the blue jeans, from their origin as durable workwear for miners, lumberjacks and other blue-collar workers, to the uniform of the American cowboy, to an enduring symbol of contemporary pop and counter culture. We were also incredibly fortunate to work with Dani Killam to locate a few key garments from outside the archives to crystallize the pervasive influence Levis continues to have today, particularly with celebrities and cultural icons.

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Bing Crosbys Custom Denim Tuxedo

In 1951, Bing Crosby and a friend were on a hunting expedition in Canada. Although Bing was well dressed in the movies he appeared in, in everyday life he was a diehard fan of denim. This particular day, when he and a friend arrived at their hotel in Vancouver, he was dressed from head to toe in denim and they were turned down because it was not up to the hotels dress code!! Fortunately, one of the bellhops recognized Crosby and with apologies from the management, they were accommodated.

The story got back to Levis, who saw a marketing opportunity. They designed a denim tuxedo especially for him, using the 501 denim fabric, with a label stitched on the inside addressed to all hotels that read, to be duly received and registered with cordial hospitality at any time under any conditions.

During the promotion for his film, Here comes the Groom, he wore the jacket and attracted much attention it was so unique and different from formal tuxedos of the time. What an amazing marketing opportunity for Levi Strauss, who of course introduced it into their catalog.

Just as an aside, in researching this information. I came across a photograph of Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake both wearing denim formal wear to an MTV awards show in 2001.

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