American entrepreneur Henry David Lee formed the Lee Mercantile Company in Salina, KS, in 1889. After manufacturing jackets and dungarees initially, the company struck gold when it introduced the Lee Bib Overall in 1911 and the Union-All jumpsuit in 1913. Soon, Lee was one of the go-to brands for workwear across the country, and it set up manufacturing and distribution outposts from coast to coast. The brand made another major advancement in 1926 when it introduced the world's first zip-fly jeans. During the next few decades, Lee also experimented with various denim jackets and other hybrids between workwear and casualwear.
Lee was acquired by the VF Corporation in 1969. By that time, it had already become a major international brand. Today, Lee's distribution network extends to 82 countries around the world. After catering primarily to men during its early years, the company has long since expanded to also make apparel for women and children. In 1996, the manufacturer created Lee National Denim Day during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Lee partners with the Entertainment Industry Foundation and works with Hollywood spokespeople to raise money for the American Cancer Society. To date, the event has raised more than $80 million.
Without question, denim products continue to be Lee's top sellers for consumers of all ages, and jeans dominate the category. In boys' sizes, you'll find jean styles like bootcut, straight, contractor, and relaxed fit. Popular cuts for girls' jeans include skinny, straight, and boyfriend cut. Products are available in several different colors and washes. Boys can also find other bottoms like cargo pants, mission pants, zip-off pants, boardwalk shorts, cargo shorts, and more. These bottoms range from regular khaki to a number of other colors, and some products include patterns like plaid.
When it comes to women's sizes, Lee's selection gets a little bigger. You'll still find plenty of jeans in many of the same cuts that are popular in girls' sizes. Lee makes other pants for women too, including trousers, straight-leg pants, pull-on pants, flare pants, and more. For warmer weather, you'll find capris, shorts, skirts, and skorts. Fashionable tops are available in styles like tunics, v-necks, cardigans, and button-down shirts. You can also find t-shirts and graphic tees featuring the company's logo. Extending one of its original legacies, Lee still sells denim jackets in a range of different colors and styles. For smaller or larger women, Lee also works to make petite and plus-sized clothes that are both flattering and comfortable.
It's impossible to trace the evolution of denim in the U.S. without acknowledging the major role that Lee played. In fact, the company is largely responsible for the jeans that people across the globe wear on a daily basis. The brand puts a focus on making jeans that are both durable and comfortable. They are built to withstand an active lifestyle--ideal for kids, but also important for adults. The company's fundraising efforts have also been an incredible success, and they prove that Lee is committed to giving back to the community. All things considered, we give the brand 4.5 stars out of 5.
- Established 1889
- Denim and other apparel
- Sold at:
- Major retailers and online
- Types of items:
- Jeans, dungarees, cargo pants, khakis, capris, shorts, skirts, skorts, trousers, blouses, cardigans, t-shirts, graphic tees, denim jackets
- Related brands:
- Wrangler, 7 for All Mankind, Rustlers, Rock & Republic, Eastpak, JanSport, The North Face, Eagle Creek, Vans, Timberland, Nautica, Lucy