Alife and Lee Jeans are launching on Oct. 3 their first collaboration, nodding to both brands’ storied histories.
The streetwear brand is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, while Lee commemorates 130 years of business and denim heritage with the collaboration. Alife founder Rob Cristofaro said he wore Lee Jeans growing up in New York in the Seventies when the denim brand served as the unofficial uniform for the city’s youth.
The collection nods to Lee’s archive and includes pieces such as tapered corduroy jeans and jackets for $150, selvedge denim jeans and jackets ranging in price from $240 to $260, and graphic T-shirts featuring Buddy Lee, the denim brand’s advertising mascot from 1920 to 1962, wearing an Alife logo hoodie and Alife/Lee selvage denim jacket and jeans. Lee also produced cobranded khaki hoodies that reference the brand’s leather patch.
Many of the denim pieces are crafted with fabric sourced from the Cone Mills White Oak Plant, the last selvage denim mill in the U.S. that closed permanently in 2017, and have Alife allover print patterns and Lee brand patches.
“As a kid, my friends and I would frequent our local Army & Navy store where there was a floor-to-ceiling wall of colored Lee to choose from. We would paint the back panel of the jackets with graffiti and iron creases on the front of the jeans,” Cristofaro said.
Cristofaro said in August that the brand approached Lee Jeans to collaborate because of “their connection to New York.”
“As a teen growing up in New York during the B-boy/breakdancing era of the Eighties, Lee was part of the uniform,” Cristofaro said. “Lee jeans and jackets were offered in a palette of colors, solids and pinstripes that people matched their sneakers, Le Tigré shirts and Windbreakers to. Lee was a part of the Eighties history of New York.”
Alife also collaborated with the Bronx Museum of the Arts on merchandise for the Henry Chalfant: Art vs. Transit, 1977-1987 exhibit that opened on Sept. 25. The brand produced graphic apparel and a skate deck for the exhibit.
Chalfant documented graffiti in the late Seventies and Eighties and produced the book “Subway Art,” which Cristofaro described as “the bible of graffiti.” Working with the museum on the Chalfant exhibit is in line with brand’s ethos to work on projects that connect to New York City, as well as the brand’s connection to art, especially graffiti which Cristofaro practiced until he founded Alife.
The Alife x Lee collection will be available on the brands’ respective web sites and at the Alife Rivington Club store in the Lower East Side.