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Updated: March 31, 2013 16:29 IST

It’s in your jeans

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Levi Strauss company historian Lynn Downey
Levi Strauss company historian Lynn Downey

Jeans historian Lynn Downey swings by Bangalore on the Asia leg of her vintage Levis road show

Have you heard the story of the Bavarian immigrant who started out working in his family’s dry goods business and later went on to revolutionise the world of clothing by founding the blue jeans? Levi Strauss, a name that is synonymous with jeans, quite literally.

The brand has been thriving for 140 years now and has influenced popular culture and consumer behaviour with alarming potency.

Marking the anniversary of Levi global and the company’s presence in India for over two decades they put together a road show that illustrates the origin and evolution of the blue jeans as everyone knows it today.

The blue evolution

Documenting the history of Levi Strauss and Co, is their company historian Lynn Downey, who is also responsible for putting together the road show that shows how the jeans have evolved from the 1890’s right till 1989.

“A man from Bavaria created one of the most American garments. We are an American brand and we want to tell the story of where we come from,” she said.

The archive was started in 1989. “It creates an emotional connect for the employees, it’s exciting for them because they feel like a part of the continuum; everything they are creating is going into history. The archive is useful in management – the past is there to reach out to if you need it, it is a resource.” She picks up an original pair of blue Levi that lay next to the pair signed by the Rolling Stones, “These have had a hard life,” Lynn says handling them with gloves, “It was probably owned by a cowboy going by the fade patterns.” We then discuss the branding, the advertisements in watercolours that pop and an assortment of corporate memorabilia.

On the railway tracks and girders that ran in the centre of the room were the replicas of vintage Levi, the double arches on the back pockets, the red and white tab that identified an ‘original’ Levi, the rivets…

Funny story about how the crotch rivet at the base of the button fly was removed as it heated up when the wearer crouched before a campfire.

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