In 1989, then-CEO Bob Haas decided that Levi Strauss & Co. needed a professional archivist and historian to manage the company’s historical materials and tell LS&Co.’s stories to employees, consumers and the world at large.
I was the lucky girl who got the job.
Since then, I have been proud to watch the Archives expand from a small stash of historic clothing, photographs and documents to the most significant collection of vintage Levi’s® clothing in the world. A collection that once fit in a few filing cabinets now fills several rooms in the headquarters of Levi Strauss & Co.
The Archives are our vibrant, living history. These Archives attract a constant stream of LS&Co. designers who look to our tradition of craftsmanship for inspiration. And they’ve become a destination for fashion industry professionals, the media, history buffs, denim-heads and fans the world over.
But after nearly 25 years, it’s time for me to move on to a new challenge — a personal project very dear to my heart: writing the biography of company founder Levi Strauss. The change is both exciting and bittersweet, and it’s made all the more easier knowing that I’m leaving the Archives in good hands.
Ready to take the reins is Tracey Panek, who comes to us from the California State Automobile Association. Founded in San Francisco in 1900, AAA made California modern with maps, road signs and anything having to do with transportation in Northern California. Tracey brings her own passion for history, and bridges the past and future with her vast experience managing digital information.
You’re not quite rid of me yet, though. In addition to writing Levi’s story, I’m taking on the role of Historian Emeritus for LS&Co. and will continue to contribute to Unzipped and provide input on special projects. And although I won’t be in the building every day, the Archives are a part of me, and a piece of my heart will always be there — right between the 1890 photograph of Levi Strauss, and the 1974 Levi’s® edition American Motors Gremlin.