It’s a new day for Lee Jeans after 127 years.
The venerable $1 billion denim brand is embarking on a major reinvention this week that includes a new fall collection that represents a serious upgrade in styling and fabric choices, a refreshed web site and the introduction of its “Move Your Lee” campaign.
“Everything is grounded in this whole new brand positioning that we’re bringing into life for the Lee Brand,” said Kim Yates, vice president of marketing. “We went back to our heritage starting in 1889, realizing we were a brand from the very beginning that was helping can-do people do more. So we translated that into the modern era, inspiring life in motion — freedom of movement and to move boldly with style.”
Yates described Move Your Lee as a “360-degree campaign surrounding the consumer,” including TV, digital and social advertising and marketing, a reinvention of the lee.com web site, all with new photography, new models and in-store imagery.
Yates said, “Overall, across all of our products, we’re bringing more stretch fabrics,” including spandex and branded Lycra Beauty. In addition, many styles feature cotton and Tencel blends that combine for a softer, lighter-weight fabric with strength and an authentic look, which along with stretch content “that makes you feel good when you move around.”
The Dream Jean was created as a reaction to the ath-leisure trend, particularly women choosing yoga pants over jeans, Yates noted.
“So our designers set out to designs jeans that looked as great as our jeans look, but have the comfort features of a yoga pant,” said Yates, who joined Lee in 2015 from Procter & Gamble.
Dream jeans feature a high-performance stretch fabric with a soft T-shirt-type fabric lining the waistband and hip areas, and all closures and metallic trim, so that inside they feel like yoga pants. The entire jean is stretch and the waistband is wide and stretchy, “so it feels like a yoga pant on the inside and on the outside looks like a great pair of skinny jeans.” It’s available in a wide range of washes.
For the jeans purest, the Lee 101 collection is being brought over from Europe. Lee 101 is a true, tough denim offering that has to be broken in and comes in regular and relaxed fits.
Key retailers for Lee and the relaunch are Kohl’s, J.C. Penney, Macy’s, Amazon and Sears. The e-commerce area on lee.com has been revamped with a fresh look and improved backend platform. There’s also a new “fit guide” to help customers know the right style for their needs and fit.
All Lee jeans and pants have a manufacturer suggested retail price of $60 to $65, according to Yates.
Yates noted that women have been used to stretch for a long time, but men are “kind of shocked and awed by stretch.” But for those men who have tested the new product, the reaction has been “very positive.”
For women, there’s also the “Essential Chino,” which now has more stretch and a more modern silhouette, made in various colors.
In men’s denim, the relaunch features the Modern Series Athletic Fit and Modern Series Slim Fit. The slim fit is for a slim build, while athletic fit is for a more muscular man.
Men’s khakis now also have spandex throughout, with an athletically inspired waistband.
Lee is part of VF Corp.’s Jeanswear Coalition. In 2015, global Jeanswear revenue was flat at $2.8 billion, with Wrangler making up $1.7 million worth. Lee brand revenue was flat from 2014 at $1 billion.