135,000 Historical Items
The Levi’s Archives in San Francisco is established in 1989 by former CEO Bob Haas. Since then, the archives holds over 135,000 historical items of Levi’s as garments, catalogs, advertisements, and artifacts from all over the world. In 2015, Tracey Panek, the current historian, and archives director digitalized their total archives and is also responsible for the archive. (Read more about Tracey in the topic ‘Meet the Person’ here.)
Before the archives were created Levi’s had to validate the authenticity of each item on word-of-mouth anecdotes. This was also because their archive was destroyed by an earthquake in 1906. Since then they had to build up their archive again with historical pieces. Luckily they could get their hands on important and key pieces during the years which they use as reference in their current collection. The collection contains unique and rare pieces from the 1800s until now.
The Levi’s Virtual Vault
Tracey Panek introduced Levi’s Virtual Vault where you can discover a wealth of materials that tell the stories of real people and how they lived in Levi’s. My 501’s pair of the early 1900s is also part of ‘Tell us your Levi’s Story Station’, which you can check out here.
In the Levi’s Virtual Vault you can discover special items as a 1951 photo of Bing Crosby in the denim tuxedo jacket that was a gift from Levi Strauss, as well as the actual jacket. You’ll find an array of photographs that span the late 1800s in San Francisco to the present day. Historical photos of seamstresses sewing denim at the San Francisco headquarters back in the roaring 1920s.
The archives team is dedicated to the search and restoration of artifacts from all over the world, and they’ve preserved our history and legacy by weaving the past with the present.
The First Episode
In a new series, Tracey Panek takes you on a behind-the-scenes tour, so you can explore the archives by yourself. Watch the first episode of ‘Step into the Levi’s Archives’ here;