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Lee Celebrates 125 Years of Design Innovation

As long as 125 years is for an ancient dynasty to rule an empire, it’s even more remarkable when the milestone signifies the anniversary of a denim company. Lee, the American heritage brand that’s been a staple around the world since 1889, is celebrating its longevity by tapping into the creative talents of denim pioneers PRPS’ Donwan Harrell and Orjan Andersson, formerly of Cheap Monday, to rework some of its iconic pieces.

The Lee 125 Years Collection includes Harrell’s “battered and bruised” approach to bold washes and distressed details. Each garment, including Lee’s classic Rider denim jacket, is lined with vintage theme illustrations from the brand’s deep archives.

Andersson’s styles home in on simplicity with a range of slim-fit unisex silhouettes. Styles are plain with black and grey washes, however, patches, logos and ripped embellishments deliver a dash of old world grit.

Lee’s 125th celebrations extend overseas. Lee Asia Pacific (AP) gathered 27 of the brand’s most recognizable garments from 1918 to the 1960s to tour across major cities across Asia this year. The “Stay Curious” exhibit kicked off in Beijing, China and then traveled to Tokyo. Hong Kong, Shanghai and Manila.

Visitors to the pop-up exhibit are greeted with Buddy Lee doll giveaways, a timeline of Lee’s design milestones, a sneak peek at Lee AP’s next designs and a DIY lab where they can make a Lee brand sourvenir.