An Introduction Of The American Wrangler Denim Brand

The Wrangler brand is part of the American so-called ‘Big 3‘ denim brands, together with Levi’s and Lee. Started in 1947 as a denim brand with a strong Western lifestyle approach. Serving the growing market in the Cowboys and farmers lifestyle. Since it’s launch worn by many ranchers in the West.

In the 10 key dates here below, some of the brand’s highlights are covered, but of course, there are way more in the end. This is just a glimpse as an introduction and need to know key years. In the article, a vintage example is shown that is heavily worn by an original rancher in America. The pair is the 31MWZPW style, that is beautifully worn in and aged over the years. Produced in the U.S.A. in the late 1970s/early 1980s. Made with Wrangler’s signature broken twill denim fabric.

Learn 10 key years of the Wrangler brand here below!


wrangler 31mwzpw

  • 1943

The Blue Bell company acquired the Casey Jones Company. A manufacturer of workwear clothing. Buying the company means that they also got the rights to Casey Jones’ rarely used brand name, Wrangler.

wrangler 31mwz pw

  • 1947

This is the year the Wrangler officially kicked off producing authentic Western jeans for the growing farmers and Cowboys market. The first jeans are designed together with celebrity tailor Rodeo Ben. The first pair of jeans, the 11MW (This name refers to 11oz and MW to Men’s Wear) is now known as the ‘prototype’.

These first jeans were designed with functionality features with cowboys in mind; flat rivets that wouldn’t scratch your saddle, watch pocket, felled seams for a more comfortable cowboy ride, and 7 belt loops rather than the usual 5.

On the back pockets were arcuates stitched, which switched later into the WW, which stands for Western Wear.

Fun note: The 11MW ‘proto type’ jeans is a true collectors item these days. Learn more about this specific jeans here.

wrangler 31mwz pw

wrangler 31mwz pw

  • 1948

Jim Shoulders, a World Champion Cowboy, signs on as an official endorsee of Wrangler. He won in total 16 world championships titles, including five All-Around, seven Bull Riding, and four Bareback Riding world titles.

wrangler 31mwz pw

wrangler 31mwz pw

  • 1962

The Blue Bell company opened a plant in Belgium and the Wrangler brand was successfully launched in Europe to serve the growing market overseas.

Fun note: In 1963, Wrangler began using Sanforized, 14oz. denim fabrics. The heaviest denim ever made in their Western blue jeans. Learn more about Sanforized and Unsanforized denim fabrics here.

wrangler 31mwz pw

wrangler 31mwz pw

  • 1964

The brand introduces their broken twill denim fabric to the market for the very first time. This special fabric, a mix of right-hand and left-hand denim fabric weave, was developed by Wrangler to avoid legs twisting. Something very common in production, and seen as a production fault.

Fun note: Nowadays, many see leg twisting as a special and unique character for vintage jeans.

wrangler 31mwz pw

  • 1974

The Wrangler jeans and shirts became the first, and still only, Western wear brand to be officially endorsed by the Pro Rodeo Cowboy Association.

Fun note: In 1997, the 13MWZ jeans fit, the official jeans of the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association, celebrated its 50th birthday.

wrangler 31mwz pw

  • 1986

Blue Bell merges with VF Corporation of Pennsylvania, making VF one of the two largest jeans makers in the world.

wrangler 31mwz pw

  • 1996

The brand has become the #1 market share leader in the U.S.; one out of every four males in the U.S. is wearing a Wrangler jeans.

wrangler 31mwz pw

wrangler 31mwz pw

  • 2005

Wrangler partners with the American Quarter Horse Association to develop the ultimate riding jeans for women with special features tailored to meet the needs of female riders.

wrangler 31mwz pw

  • 2 0 1 7 – 2022

Wrangler celebrates their 70th anniversary. And in 2022, the brand celebrated its 75th anniversary globally with many special denim events and activities.

wrangler 31mwz pw


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Written by Wouter Munnichs
I'm the founder of Long John. Next to running this daily magazine, I'm working as a freelance denim specialist for the industry. Titled as 'Denim Influencer 2020' by Rivet 50. Celebrated my 10th anniversary with Long John in 2021.