FlyTitle: Jean history

How American denim conquered the world

美国牛仔服饰如何征服世界

经济学人双语版-蓝色狂想曲 Rhapsody in blue

HE WAS BORN in a Bavarian village in 1829, fleeing anti-Semitism with his family at 17. From New York he caught a steamer to California, a newly minted American citizen, with a view to expanding the family’s dry-goods business. But these were the heady days of the Gold Rush, and the young man dreamed of making it big. His initiative paid off so well that you may be wearing his invention now: his name was Levi Strauss.

他1829年出生在巴伐利亚的一个村庄,17岁在反犹潮中随家人逃亡。新获得美国公民身份的他搭上了一艘汽船从纽约前往加州,想扩展自家的纺织品业务。但当时淘金热正如火如荼,这个年轻人也梦想着把生意做大。他的冲劲收获了非常可观的回报,你现在说不定正穿着他的发明。他的名字就是李维·施特劳斯(Levi Strauss)。

Technically, the entrepreneur who went by “Uncle Levi” didn’t invent the copper rivets on denim “waist overalls” that became his firm’s stock-in-trade. The idea came from a tailor in Nevada who bought cloth from Strauss to make work clothes for labourers. In 1872 Jacob Davis persuaded him to jointly file for a patent for an “improvement in fastening pocket openings”, and to shift from selling fabric to finished trousers. The rest is a history of marketing genius—documented in the largest-ever public display of artefacts from the Levi Strauss & Co. archive.

严格说来,这位人称“李维大叔”的企业家并不是牛仔“齐腰工装裤”上的铜铆钉的发明者(这个物件后来成了他公司产品的常用件)。这个主意是内华达州的一名裁缝想出来的,他从施特劳斯那里购买布料,制成体力劳动者穿的工作服。1872年,雅各布·戴维斯(Jacob Davis)说服施特劳斯共同为一个“加强口袋开口牢固度的方法”申请专利,并从卖面料转向卖成品裤子。接下来便是一段天才营销的历史。李维斯公司档案馆有史以来最大的文物公开展记录了这段历史。

“Levi Strauss: A History of American Style” at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco deftly weaves together corporate, cultural and social trends to tell the story of one of the country’s most famous exports. When Strauss died in 1902 he was eulogised as one of San Francisco’s foremost philanthropists and a pillar of the Jewish community. Nobody could have anticipated that the firm he bequeathed to four nephews would define America’s style and become a global juggernaut. It did that by cannily roping its product to two mythic American figures: the cowboy and the rebel.

“李维·施特劳斯:一部美国风格史”在旧金山的当代犹太博物馆展出。它巧妙地将企业、文化和社会三方面的趋势编织在一起,讲述了美国最著名的出口品之一的故事。施特劳斯在1902年去世时被誉为旧金山最杰出的慈善家之一和犹太社区的支柱。没有人会预料到他留给四个外甥的公司会定义美国的风格,并成为一个全球巨头。它精明地将自家产品挂钩于美国赫赫有名的两类人物形象——牛仔和反叛者。

Levi’s 501 jeans were tough. The oldest pair on display dates to 1890; another was used to tow a car. Marketed originally to farmers, mechanics and miners, they became the garb of choice for Western horsemen. It wasn’t long before John Wayne and Clark Gable were wearing them into the sunset, followed by glamorous hoodlums played by Marlon Brando and James Dean.

李维斯501牛仔裤很结实。此次展出的最古老的一条于1890年生产,还有一条曾被用来牵引一辆汽车。这款牛仔裤最初面向农民、机修工和矿工销售,后来成了西部牛仔的首选服装。没过多久,西部片中有了约翰·韦恩和克拉克·盖博穿着这款裤子走进夕阳的画面,之后它又被马龙·白兰度和詹姆斯·迪恩饰演的魅力十足的小混混穿上身。

The brand’s advertising rode the countercultural wave, capitalising on its status as a badge of coolness and freedom. Marilyn Monroe wore Levi’s; Andy Warhol immortalised them. Even Albert Einstein was spotted in a Levi’s bomber jacket. Jeans that graced the haunches of the famous—including Patti Smith, Madonna and Beyoncé—fill the gallery and span the decades.

这个品牌的广告宣传搭上了反主流文化的浪潮,充分利用了其自身标志着“酷”和自由的地位。玛丽莲·梦露穿过李维斯,安迪·沃霍尔令李维斯牛仔裤声名不朽。就连爱因斯坦也穿过李维斯的飞行员夹克。曾经勾勒过一众名人(帕蒂·史密斯、麦当娜和碧昂斯等)身形曲线的牛仔裤也出现在展馆,跨越了几十年的时光。

At any given moment a big chunk of humanity is wearing blue jeans, the show’s curators observe. Levi’s have been coveted behind the Iron Curtain and fetishised in Japan; they have been ripped, embroidered and covered in ink. Not too shabby for a kid from Bavaria.

此次展览的策展人说,任何时刻都有一大群人穿着蓝色牛仔裤。铁幕背后的人们对李维斯梦寐以求;在日本,人们对它迷恋成痴。它们被撕破、绣上图案、以墨泼染。对于一个从巴伐利亚出走的孩子来说,这算相当不赖了。