July 28, 2010

Stereotypes sell Levi's jeans

Stephen Bridenstine reports on a 1954 Levi Strauss brochure about "western Indian lore" in his Drawing on Indians blog:

Selling Blue Jeans with Indians

The brochure includes headdresses, weapons, drums and rattles, sign language, and pictographs. Although it mentions other tribes in passing, it focuses on the Plains cultures...what else?

Here's my mini-review of it:

The good

The Indian lore appears to be reasonably accurate. I especially like the explanation of the feathers in a chief's headdress.

The bad

The brochure language refers to Indians only as primitive people of the past.

Focusing on the angry-looking "chief" with the tomahawk in hand, the weapons, and the "braves" chasing a cowboy make the Indians seem savage and warlike, even if the other information is positive.

The ugly

"Wait! No want scalp...just want 'um Levi's!" Tonto talk and scalping...a two-fer.

For another of Levi's take on Indians, see Levi's Celebrates Manifest Destiny. For more on using Indians to sell products, see Plains Chief on Oyster Can and Plains Chief on Pemmican Package.

1 comment:

Stephen Bridenstine said...

Just for full disclosure, this is technically a re-post of a re-post of a re-post of a post about a re-post of a post...


was picked up by


which was picked up by


which was picked up by


which I saw and re-posted on my blog


which you saw and re-posted here.

It's like the human centipede of Indian appropriation!