When it comes to vintage denim, heritage brands have an obvious advantage over their younger counterparts—a concept Lee is demonstrating with its latest drop.
This week, it launched Reissue, a collection of its first-edition denim ever made for women. These items aren’t just inspired by the workwear trend that’s flooding the streets and the runway—they’re the authentic designs the brand originally created for the working women, or the “lovely tough girls,” of the ’40s and ’50s.
While the vintage sizing has been updated to reflect modern sizes, the thread choices, hardware and manufacturing processes are the same as they were back then. The brand even worked with longtime partner Cone Denim Mills to recreate its proprietary lightweight Jelt denim needed for extra durability.
“These pieces represent a time when Lee took what was made for men and created jeans made specifically for the female body,” Betty Madden, Lee’s vice president of global design, said. “They were originally designed and worn by what we call the ‘lovely tough girls’: the women who were riding horses, working in factories during the war; who were making things happen and looking cool and effortless while doing so.
“Today’s Reissue,” she added, “is still for those same women—the ones who forge their own path with confidence and grace. The women who don’t believe being a tomboy or a girly girl are mutually exclusive—the lovely tough girls who are still making it happen.”
The collection includes the Lady Lee Rider, the “original boyfriend jeans” created in 1947; the Lee All Purpose Blue Jeans, a high-waisted wide leg introduced in 1950; the Lee Frontier Lady, a high-waisted, side-zip straight leg with pearl accents from 1952; the Lee Riders Jacket from 1949; and a raw denim jacket and jeans set with classic white stitching.
Like many other denim brands, Lee has been riding a nostalgic wave for a while now. Last month, the brand dropped a capsule collection in partnership with streetwear brand Alife to celebrate 20 years of Alife and 130 years of Lee.
The Reissue collection starts at $178 and is available exclusively on the Lee website and in its flagship store, as well as in select boutiques throughout Europe and the U.S.