Editor’s Pick: Lee Reissue Ladies Lee Riders Jean

by Charles Manning

What: A classic, high-rise, 100% cotton selvage denim jean straight from the 1940s.

Who: Lee was established in Salina, Kansas in 1889 by Henry David Lee as the H.D. Lee Mercantile Company. The company started out producing jeans and jackets, but really hit it big after they introduced the world’s first denim union-all jumpsuit in 1913 and their first overalls in 1920 (they also created the zipper fly). During the 1930s and 1940s, Lee became the leading work clothes manufacturer in the United States and by the 1950s and 1960s, they reached Hollywood icon status, appearing on stars like James Dean in “East of Eden” and Marilyn Monroe in “The Misfits.”

Why: Lee first introduced the Lady Lee Riders  in 1947 — their first jean designed specifically for women. Before that, women just wore Lee Men’s Riders. The new jean was nearly identical to the men’s original, but featured a dart in the yoke for a more fitted waist, and more room through the hips. Those original Lady Lee Riders are now a major collectors item and nearly impossible to find, which is why this reissue is so cool! The new jeans feature lightweight selvage denim from Cone Denim Mills (the gold standard), a button-front fly, a brass shank button, bar tacks on the back pockets, Lee-stamped copper rivets, and the signature “Lazy S” compound curve stitching on the back packets.

Where: Lee.com

How (much): $250

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