11An American label that started out 1889 would definitely have a few interesting stories to tell. For instance, did you know that the world’s first zip-fly jeans and the first ever women’s jeans were made by LEE? This year, on their 125thanniversary, the denim brand kicks off the celebrations with a unique concept – The LEE Archive Tour, which will include installations and rare iconic products. The tour, having recently made appearances in Australia, China, Japan and Philippines, will exhibit some of LEE’s most iconic pieces in history today, at N.S.C.I in Mumbai. This will be followed up by a free concert, featuring some of the biggest names in Indian indie music.

MW caught up with Jean Svadlenak, a long-time historian of LEE, right before the exhibition to give us a brief insight into what the tour is all about.

Vintage advertorial for LEE's cowboy jeans
Vintage advertorial for LEE’s cowboy jeans

How did the concept of ‘The Archive Tour’ come about?
This is actually an initiative on the part of LEE Asia-Pacific, as the heritage collection in LEE’s archives has been a huge inspiration for many of the designs for the anniversary line. The 2014 collection includes many details that come from some of our iconic pieces, and so the brand wanted to show what their inspiration was and display to the world how LEE has produced very purposeful designs, so each detail in the garment is there for a reason, weather it is triple stitching in the seam for strength or details on the pockets.

What has LEE’s contribution been in revolutionising denim through its 125 years?
It has been targeting specific portions of the market. When LEE initially started manufacturing garments, it was focussed entirely on work-wear and meeting the needs of workers. After that, LEE introduced denims for cowboys. And then, as the American leisure market started to grow, LEE started providing denims for everyone – men, women and children.

The Archive Tour is followed by a concert featuring some of the biggest names in Indian indie music right now, like Nucleya, Monica Dogra, Karsh Kale and Reggae Rajahs, among others. What is LEE’s association with music?
It is entirely to address the market that LEE Asia serves; it’s for the 18 to late 20-year-olds, which is the urban youth. And since the youth is so much into music, our concert is tailored for this group, keeping in mind the bands they enjoy and the kind of music they listen to.