Lee Jeans is celebrating its 120 years in the business in 2009. As a result, the iconic denim brand has launched a special jubilee line, "Lee Originals: The Archives," that shows with exact, detailed replicas how jeans were made decades ago. The line is not only about setting a new trend, but also rediscovering Lee’s heritage from a time where jeans weren’t a fashion item.

The line, which was launched for spring/summer, includes eight bottoms and five jackets. For winter 2009 the collection has been complemented with three new workwear pieces. The so-called 1950s Lee Union-All harks back to 1913 when Lee developed the item that would make the company famous: the Union-All. The idea originated with H.D. Lee, who responded to a complaint of his chauffeur, who was tired of dirtying his uniform while servicing his employer’s car. The one-piece garment also served as the ideal outfit for farm and factory workers wanting to shield themselves from dirt. The second item called the 1950s Cover-All was inspired by the Loco Jacket, the first worker jacket introduced by Lee. This 81LJ model is fully lined in wool blanket lining, also called Alaskan lining. The range is completed with the 131 Cowboy Model and marks the transition of workwear into a modern five-pocket style, with suspender buttons, unique outer seams and square back pockets. It is a replica of the 1930s garment presented in a used wash look.

Every item of “Lee Originals: The Archives” is produced in Japan to guarantee the Originals’ authenticity. In addition, the same sewing, cutting and weaving machines and handcrafting used in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s were revisited for authenticity, while each garment’s true personality is reflected in details such as labels, buttons, rivets, reinforced stitches and even in the ultra tough, ultra tightly woven denims.

“Lee Originals: The Archives” is a limited edition collection that is distributed in selected denim stores throughout Europe. All items are true Collector’s items for the real denim devotee as a celebration of Lee’s roots.

- Melanie Gropler