In 1939, as the World’s Fair rolled into San Francisco, Levi Strauss and Co. knew they had to put on quite a show for their hometown audience. The then eighty-six year old company delivered with an attraction that was both technologically advanced enough to match the forward thinking atmosphere of the fair, and endearing enough to stay true to Levi’s down home roots. “The World’s Only Mechanical Rodeo” featured thirty-one wooden puppets based off of real life rodeo stars. These figurines, which of course were outfitted from head to spurs in pint sized Levi’s attire, would spring to life to act out a full rodeo, much to the amazement of the bay-side audience.
Seventy-five years later, the brand has paid homage to this mechanical curiosity with their Levi’s Vintage Clothing “Treasure Island” collection, so named for the manmade island on which the ’39 World’s Fair took place. The outfits of those thirty-one electric operated puppets provided the inspiration for “Treasure Island,” as the LVC design team (Levi’s is a Paul + Williams client, we might add for the sake of transparency) recreated their western shirts and suede truckers of the thirties. Also present in the collection is a reproduction of the “Gayway souvenir shirt” which was available for purchase at the ’39 Fair and depicts drawings of famous landmarks of San Francisco, capturing the whimsical and worldly attitude of the event. “Treasure Island,” is an example of LVC’s reverent approach at its finest, alluding not only to the history of Levi’s as a brand but also to the intrepid spirit of our nation’s bygone World’s Fairs.