Levi’s Letters

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Killing time before a client meeting today, I wandered over to Levi Plaza, and into the Levi’s Building, drawn in by the large display cubes in the lobby. Four large cubits – two depicting the history of the clothing company in product and adverts, and one touting their philanthropic programs. The third cubit displays letters written to the company over the years – compliments on the quality of the products, statements that the red tab jeans were ‘standard gear’ for many a mounted policeman, and thanks for gratis merchandise sent to celebrities (the early days of swag).

The letters sucked me in and I circled around, reading about how the sturdiness of one logger’s Levi’s had played a role in saving his leg from amputation following a logging accident, to how the classic red tabs were the standard uniform for the teen Ridin’ & Ropin’ team.

One that elicited an audible chuckle was a 1958 thank you note from heartthrob actor Cary Grant, stating that although he admired the complimentary new line of western shirts that had been delivered to him, he wasn’t sure that he could “swagger out in gold-threaded finery.” He requested notification should Levi Strauss ever “evolve a line of absolutely plain, un-checked, un-metal-threaded, absolutely solid-colored shirts…” and that “no matter the color”, he would rush to the nearest shop to purchase them. None of that fancy western garb for ‘ole CG. Save that a few decades for the Village People.

Another gem was a 1947 note from Mrs. Bob Moore, of York, Nebraska, referencing a newspaper ad stating that there were “lots of blue jeans…but only one LEVI’S”, with the sardonic note:
“Gentlemen: I think you are right, but where in the Hell can I buy them.”

Way to give it to ‘em, Mrs. Moore – likely fresh off of her post-WWII, all-female swing-shift at the local mill, this liberated dame was wanting her Levi’s, and wantin’ ‘em NOW.

3 Comments so far

  1. Matt R. (unregistered) on August 29th, 2006 @ 8:27 am

    After the mother-enforced Toughskins era of elementary school, I’ve worn nothing but 501′s for over 25 years. Can’t live without ‘em.

    Of course, I got my revenge on mom by wearing those high school 501′s to the holes and threads in the knees and elsewhere, to her horror. Hey, at least we didn’t wear our pants down around our knees back in those days!


  2. Mark (unregistered) on August 29th, 2006 @ 11:16 am

    The “red tag” jeans are those without a seam in the center of the crotch area — that’s why all those horse riders like them.

    I believe the Wells Fargo building at 400 Montgomery also has a corporate history display. Any others around town? (I’m not sure I want to know what Chevron’s is!)


  3. Nancy (unregistered) on August 29th, 2006 @ 12:20 pm

    I believe a certain construction company (sounds like ‘rectal’) has a copy of the deal they struck with the devil somewhere in their corporate archives…



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