Lee - The Legendary Denim Brand Since 1889

Lee is the signature of quality, innovation and durability.  Following with the establishment of 'H.D. Lee Mercantile Company' by Henry David Lee in Kansas, United States, Lee becomes a legendary denim brand which continues making history by its product innovations, such as the world's first-ever zip fly jeans - 101Z in 1926, iconic 'Hair-on-hide' leather label and 'Lazy S' back pocket stitching.  From the launch of the 1st Lee bib to the 13oz  '101' cowboy jeans, Lee demonstrates the passion of innovation over 120 years, transforming from a practical-and-durable-workwear maker to a contemporary-and-trendy fashion giant.

Our History

Our History

 
1889
1910s
1920s
1930s
1940s
1950s
1960s
1970s
1980s
1990s
2000s
 

1889

Henry David Lee established the H.D. Lee Mercantile company in Kansas and started a business in making and selling fine goods. He quickly saw the need for reliable workwear. Unhappy with the quality and inconsistent delivery of workwear from Eastern suppliers, Lee started with his venture to do better and became one of the most successful garment companies in the world

1911

Lee starts making overalls of high quality in 1911. The first one was called the Bib Overall and was originally made in 8oz denim and had a multi-function breast pocket and a button fly.

1913

Invention of one-piece coveralls – the iconic Union-Alls was conceived. Inspired by seeing a chauffeur fixing the car, H.D. Lee develops an overall that will protect the wearer both below and above the waist. A jacket and dungarees are stitched together to a full jacket coveralls. It gained immediate national popularity.

1920

The H.D.Lee Company created Buddy Lee as an advertising piece. The first Buddy Lee was dressed in a Lee overall and displayed in the window of the Dayton Company Department Store on Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis, Minesota. Over the years, Buddy Lee has become hugely sucessful and a collector's item.

1924

Introduction of the first Lee cowboy pants - 101 jeans with U-shape saddle crotch and button fly. It was designed to cater to the specific needs of cowboys and rodeo riders. This idea to focus on the cowboy proved to be crucial as it was the market that was to become the major promoter of jeanswear throughout the world.

1926

The zipper technology was added to cowboy pants. The world's first ever zip fly jeans - 101Z went to the market, featuring tailored sizing that based on the rise and seat proportions as well as inseam measurements. The U-shaped crotch was introduced for added comfort.

1936

Lee created 'hair-on-hide' leather label on the back of Lee jeans. The logo was branded directly onto the cowhide and appeal to the cowboy life-style.

1944

Lazy S back pocket stitch was introduced. The stitches on both pockets are viewed together they resemble the shape of the famous 'Long Horn' comics. This is also the year when Lee's cowboy garments are put together under the label Lee Riders.

1949

Lady Lee Riders were introduced and promoted as the best fitting jeans for women in the market.

1954

James Dean appeared in 'Giant' and 'Rebel Without a Cause', wearing Lee jeans. This was the birth of the biker cult and the beginning of the transformation of denim from workwear to pop culture. In addition to dominating the workwear and western markets, Lee moved into leisure wear with Leesures: 'Comfort Clothes for Work and Play'.

1969

Lee consolidated with VF Company, one of the biggest apparel manufacturing alliances in the world, allowing Lee to upgrade its manufacturing operations and expand its overseas production.

1982

Lee shifted completely from the workwear business and begins catering into fashion cycles, such as applying acid stone washing on jeans for the youth culture.

1995

Lee moves to China and grows substantially in the Asia Pacific region, including Australia, India, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, taiwan, Thailand, etc, becoming one of the most important denim brands in the region.

2009

Exactly 120 years have passed since H.D.Lee set his original aims and standards of 'quality & strength'.

2012

The first Lee flagship store in Asia sets its foot in Hong Kong, which is deemed as the ultimate hub for bring denim passion in the city.

2014

Now in the year of 125th anniversary, we are still developing jeans for different needs. And we are still curious. Still finding ways to make our products better and be more sophisticated for metropolitan life.