CJM exhibit opening

‘Levi Strauss: A History of American Style’ Opens

Paige Siegall, Unzipped Staff
Levi Strauss & Co.
February 11, 2020

This week, the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco opens its doors to its new exhibit, Levi Strauss: A History of American Styleshowcasing the life of Levi Strauss, the birth and evolution of the blue jean and how Levi’s® has come to define American style in the U.S. and abroad. 

Featuring over 250 items from the Levi Strauss & Co. Archives, visitors will experience Levi Strauss & Co.’s enduring impact with rarely before seen objects, including a suit owned by Lauren Bacall, Albert Einstein’s LS&Co. leather jacket, 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, offering unprecedented access and insight into the life and work of Levi Strauss, his impact on the city of San Francisco and its Jewish community, as well as the ongoing influence of Levi Strauss & Co. on American and global style. Through the lens of a Jewish immigrant, visitors are invited to experience a timeless American story of ingenuity, perseverance, and success. The scope and sweep of the exhibition follows the arc of modern American history, revealing the synchronicity between the evolution of the blue jean and the trajectory of American pop culture.

Here are a few pieces to look out for:  

Albert Einstein’s jacket: Be sure to check out Albert Einstein’s Levi’s® leather jacket, on extended public display for the first time ever. This jacket was beloved by the genius and was worn on his cover of TIME magazine in 1938. LS&Co. won the jacket in the auction in 2016, and discovered it still smelled like the sweet pipe tobacco that he continuously smoked. See it for yourself! 

Steve Jobs’ 501® jeans: Like Einstein, Steve Jobs was known for his simplified wardrobe, which included his denim staple of choice – Levi’s® 501® jeans. The pair on display was worn during the era of the release of the Apple llc 

Other pop-cultural gems: Andy Warhol’s jeans will be on display, along with an Andy Warhol silkscreen of Levi’s® 501®s; the jeans Jake Gyllenhaal wore in Brokeback Mountain; Patti Smith’s jeans; costumes from Straight Outta Compton and many other celebrity-donned items.  

Hear from our historian, Tracey Panek, on what else you can expect from the show:

Stay tuned for more highlights from the exhibit in the next few months — and if you’re in San Francisco, come check them out yourself. The Contemporary Jewish Museum is open daily (except Wednesday) 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Thursday, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.