From the Archives: The Holiday History of Levi Strauss & Co.

For the past 25 years, Levi Strauss & Co. has celebrated holiday gift giving with a special, seasonal collection of clothes. This wasn’t always the case. In fact, the company didn’t have an official holiday line until the 1980s. How is that possible from the brand that invented jeans back in 1853?

Originally, Levi Strauss & Co. was a wholesale/distributor dry goods firm founded by Levi Strauss. The retailers—Levi’s original customers—were the ones who marketed products for the holiday season to their consumers. Customers strolling down Market Street may have done their holiday shopping at department stores, but the Levi Strauss & Co. factory was the company making the merchandise. LS&Co. remained exclusively wholesale until 1983 and didn’t launch an official holiday collection until 1988, when it began to issue catalogs for retailers. That’s over a century of holiday business done behind the scenes.

We did things differently back then, but our customers still remained faithful to the brand. Levi’s jeans were gifted and passed down from one generation to the next—cherished as family heirlooms because they were durable and dependable, and could be worn every day.

We discovered a letter in our archives dating back to 1946 written from the Pacific Lodge Boys’ Home (a residential treatment center for boys ages 13 to 17) to Levi Strauss & Co. A representative thanks the LS&Co. family for their donation of Levi’s denim during Christmas time.

 

Letter_Dec_1946

 

FROM THE ARCHIVES
Written by Levi Strauss & Co. Historian Lynn Downey, From The Archives is an ongoing series of short stories from the company’s vast historical Archives. Throughout our 160 year history we’ve influenced society, culture and style all over the globe. From a massive assortment of vintage product including the original blue jean, to the old advertisements and one off product collaborations, these are the stories that helped shape who we are today.