Lee : History

© COPYRIGHT 2007-2017 Jeans & Denim - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED - Author : Jerome Vallet

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H.D. LeeHenry David Lee was born in 1849 in the Vermont : he is a successful business man, first working in the oil industry and then in the grocery wholesale, in the food distribution, in the stationery,etc., in the late 19th century.

Lee work clothesFaced with his own employees needs and sensing the growing opportunity in the work clothing market during those labour times, in 1911 Lee invests in the manufacturing of outfits, standing out with his trousers, jackets and dungarees in denim.


Lee's clothing will put their stamps two years later, when the 'union-all' will be created, stitching the denim trousers to the denim jacket making a suit, which will appeal to farmers and workers looking for a practical and robust garment in one piece.


Lee work clothesThe destiny of the firm is then transformed. In 1917 its success is enhanced by orders of the US Army, calling on Lee to produce as many uniforms as possible for soldiers.


National advertising campaigns (the first of its kind) will reinforce this dynamic, particularly the ones featuring Buddy Lee, a young character displaying numerous outfits, who will later be referred to as the marketing symbol of Lee.


Buddy LeeLee's denim are already reputed for their comfort and practicality: in 1924, after using a 13 ounce cloth (against a 10 ounce cloth for Levi's), they will be stronger, which will pleased sailors and loggers. He then invests too in the cowboys clothing market.


In 1926, for the first time ever in the fabric industry, Lee launches a fitted zipped denim range.


H.D Lee died in 1928, leaving behind him a very successful company.


Lee invests in the cowboys clothing market It is not until 1949 that Lee jeans will be available to women, just after they have heavily invested in factories while their husbands were at the front.


In the 50's, Lee sells its food business. In 1969, the company is taken over by Vanity Fair Corporation, which still remain part of it today, as well as Wrangler, Vans, 7 for all mankind, Eagle Creek, Nautic, etc.


A new children range is launched in the 70's.


In 1982, Lee commercialises its first faded jeans (stone washed), using in the manufacturing process, lava stones after having tested other materials.





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