Part of Levi’s history now resides on the other side of the pond.
The denim giant recently established its first satellite archive outside of its San Francisco headquarters, opening a London outpost featuring a “treasure trove” of rare Levi’s garments. Located adjacent to Levi’s new concept store in SoHo, the new archive lets visitors view items like copper-riveted denim overalls and garments with a local connection.
The London archive includes historic pieces such as a heavily patched and repaired 505 style from the 1970s that was owned by the manager of a London dump yard. Another pair, a 501 jean converted into a boot cut flare jean, belonged to a woman who worked on Carnaby Street, the birthplace of Swinging London.
Others represent Levi’s link to London’s punk scene in the ’70s and ’80s, including a pair of 501 jeans from 1984 worn by a member of a punk band from the city’s Southend.
“The Levi’s London Archives gets me excited,” said Phil Brown, Levi’s Archives manager. “It’s an opportunity to interact with true vintage pieces and showcase our incredible history to staff and fans alike.”
The Levi’s original archive was established in California in 1989 and features artifacts, garments, advertisements, catalogs and invoices that date back to the 1850s. The brand’s focus on history has expanded over the years, most notably with The Vault Museum located at its headquarters.
Recently, Levi’s introduced a storytelling component to the museum with “Tell Us Your Levi’s Story,” a kiosk where visitors can listen to other people’s jeans stories or record their own experience with Levi’s.
Denim, in general, is a popular topic for history buffs and museum goers. A new exhibit at Cité des sciences et de l’industrie in Paris explores the story of jeans, as well as its cultural impact. In the fall, the Levi Strauss Museum in the German city of Buttenheim marked its 20th anniversary with a special exhibit dedicated to artist Ian Berry‘s denim artwork.