Surf campaign billboard advertisement, ca. 1960s. Levi Strauss & Co. Archives

“Levi Strauss: A History of American Style” comes to CJM Soon

Levi Strauss: A History of American Style will be the largest exhibition to date of materials from the Levi Strauss & Co. archives.

The exhibit at The Contemporary Jewish Museum will celebrate the birth of the blue jean, showcasing the life of Levi Strauss, the evolution of Levi’s from workwear into iconic fashion wear, and the city of San Francisco that inspired this style revolution.

Levi Strauss & Co. reflected the changing consciousness of the country and the exhibition tracks the company’s trajectory from its initial emphasis on nineteenth-century miners and blue collar laborers; to its role in crafting the mythology of the American West in the early twentieth century; to its impact on the rise of international youth culture in the 1960s, and beyond.

Levi Strauss was a Bavarian Jewish dry goods merchant who immigrated first to New York and then to San Francisco, where he transformed his family’s dry goods business into a clothing business. The exhibition tells a quintessentially American story of immigration, perseverance, and success, and also offers insight into the evolution of San Francisco’s history.

On view February 13 – August 9, the exhibition will invite visitors to experience Levi Strauss & Co.’s enduring impact with rarely before seen objects, including a suit owned by Lauren Bacall, a reissue of a jacket worn by Albert Einstein, 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, reflecting the myriad ways Levi’s has infused the culture of America, and has become shorthand for classic American style abroad.

Cultural Currents readers may expect an exclusive interview with co-curator Heidi Rabben, soon.