Second Sunrise Archive: Lee Rider Jeans

Vintage Lee Rider Jeans

Maker - H.D Lee Company
Era - 60s
Fabric - Cotton 3x1 left hand denim
Acquired - by Douglas Luhanko in 2007

The HD Lee Mercantile Company was founded in Kansas back in 1889 but it was'nt until the early 20th century that the brand started to make work clothes. Before that the company was focused on groceries and canned food. When the brand turned to the clothing market they were first producing workwear in the form of overalls, bib-overalls and chore jackets and in the 30's they launched their Cowboy line of clothes.

These jeans are a pair of Lee Riders 101z from the late 60s. The model is called 101 z where the "z" stands for zipper fly. The zipper fly is strongly associated with Lee jeans as it's is said that they were The first denim manufacturer to use a zipper on a work wear garment. The 101z model was introduced in the 50's and didn't change much up to the 70s, so the age of a pair is determined of the design on the labels that are found on the inside of the waistband and on the top corner of the left back pocket.

The H. D Lee company was known for using left hand 3x1 denim, a fabric that is known to feel more soft and fade quicker than the right hand denim used by Levi's among others. This is supposedly because the twist if the fabric's threads loosen up a little when woven in a left-hand twill (and are tightened in a right-hand twill) which makes the jeans feel softer and somewhat stretchy even though the fabric still is 100% cotton. 

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Lee jeans were known for their small, rounded backpockets that had a wide placement. It is said that the reason for this was to make the jeans more comfortable to wear when you wear seated in the saddle because you would'nt be seated on whatever you were wearing in your pockets and they could also bee reached without the need to stand up in the saddle. These features are also said to be the reason why Lee riders had a growing popularity among truck drivers in the second half of the 20th century.

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As you can see, the left hand twill fabric used will twist to it's left, as opposed to a right hand fabric where the legs will twist in the opposite direction.

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Lee label on the back pocket with a (R) for trade mark registration, dating these jeans to the late 60s.

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The Lee Riders button.
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Gripper Zipper fly.
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The Lee label found on the inside of the waistband. The white/yellow design tells us when these jeans were made.
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The Lee leather patch, with the logo designed to look like it was made with a branding iron that was used for branding livestock. 
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The Selvage on this pair of jeans is a plain line, meaning there is no colored thread woven into the edge.
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In the left back pocket we find the so called Union ticket. These printed cotton cloth labels were introduced back in the 19th century and they were added to garments to show that the maker was producing clothes that were up to the standards set by the union.

The jeans are now a part of our archive and we keep them as a inspirational piece. Their former owner was located in Indian Valley, Idaho and in 2007 they ended up in Sweden. 

Want to read more about our vintage archive? Surf over Here to see last weeks post!


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