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Lee’s New Dual-Gender Collection Is a Play on Decades

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A new dual-gender collection by Lee weaves together the 130-year-old brand’s DNA with contemporary styling designed to resonate with a global base of millennial and Gen Z consumers.

The Kontoor Brands-owned company debuted the Fall 2020 collection Tuesday. Global head of design for Lee Betty Madden, who joined the company in 2019 and is the brand’s first female creative lead, was tasked with the challenge to elevate the archival designs.

Madden, however, is well versed with the modern demands of young fashion consumers. Prior to joining Lee, Madden held design and creative positions with a litany of retail powerhouses, including Nike and Old Navy, and was credited with defining the look and feel of Abercrombie & Fitch that continues to resonate with youth culture today.

With this collection, Lee aims to attract these new generations of brand fans with “past-meets-present products,” the company stated, through a curated selection of retro looks from the Lee archives that have been updated by Madden with a modern edge.

In particular, the collection pulls inspiration from ’90s Lee looks and the skate culture lifestyle of Lee Pipes, a fit and style that was introduced in 1997 for boys interested in extreme sports. Known for exaggerated silhouettes, Lee Pipes offered wide legs for ease of movement, deep pockets and contrast stitching.

The resulting collection is a combination classic Lee jeans and jackets mixed with pops of color on graphic T-shirts and tops featuring heritage Lee images and logos.

For men, fits include a slim straight, regular straight and regular straight utility and fabrications span raw selvedge, stretch black, stretch khaki and 100 percent indigo. A classic denim chore coat is offered in washed black, medium blue with a contrasting tan corduroy collar and a dark wash lined with Sherpa. Tops include flannel and woven button-down shirts and tees and hoodies featuring the brand’s mascot Buddy Lee and other archival slogans.

The women’s range offers a tight assortment of jeans—a mid-rise bootcut, high-rise skinny, and high-rise straight ankle—and various vintage-inspired indigo washes. A classic jean jacket and graphic tees round out the line.

Lee largely remains an untapped opportunity for Kontoor. This year, however, the brand is ramping up its distribution for the Lee brand, which will launch at more than 2,000 Walmart stores this fall. This follows a successful debut for the brand in China, guided by key partnerships with influencers. Lee sold 4,000 women’s shorts in 25 seconds and 8,000 pairs of jeans in 30 minutes during live-streaming events.

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