lee jeans longjohn

Original Vintage Lee Cowboy Jeans From 1940s

This vintage pair of Lee Jeans is part of my personal denim archive. It’s an original Lee Cowboys Jeans, also known als 101 jeans, which is produced in the mid 1940’s or late 1940’s. The first Lee Cowboys Jeans were introduced back in 1924 and was designed with the so called U-shape saddle crotch and button fly. It was designed with the specific needs of cowboys and rodeo riders, as the cowboy life became the biggest promoter for jeanswear in that time.

Vintage Lee Cowboys Pants advertising.

lee cowboy

Details Of The Vintage Lee Cowboy Jeans

This pair of Lee Cowboy jeans is very rare as it shows some interesting details. Details which I haven’t seen before on Lee Cowboy’s. It’s also different than my other original pair of Lee Cowboy jeans, which you can see here in previous article.

The top button of this pair shows Lee Cowboy, which you can hardly see because there’s a lot of oxidation on it. The red/black/gold Union Made waistband label, which is centered, is totally washed out. If you take a close look you will see that the ‘ee’s’ aren’t slanted like they used to be at most Lee Cowboy jeans. It also hasn’t a crotch rivet like others. On the back, you will see some ‘darts’ which refers to a typical women’s jeans style, so they would shaped better around their hips. Also, the combination of right-hand fabric, instead of the typical Lee left-hand fabric, in combination with the half selvedge, also known as one side or single selvedge, and in combination with the shield pockets (with Lazy S back pocket stitches) is an one of a kind. All these features can refer to the fact that this is an early example of a pair of women’s Rider jeans.

These uncommon details on my pair can refer to the fact that back in the days they always used their old material first (elements as labels, buttons, and fabric) before they used their new brand identities. So it can be that they used older Lee Cowboy elements, as the top button, in combination with the newer Lee features as fabric, pocket shapes, etc. Nobody will ever 100% sure why they produced these jeans this way, but that’s also one of the good things about vintage pieces. Mysteries as these make a pair of jeans even more special and unique. These, and the idea who was wearing this pair, and reflection of their lifestyle, is the beauty and thrill of hunting on vintage denim.

Vintage Lee Cowboy Jeans from the ’40’s

lee cowboy

lee cowboy

Rust from the buttons.

lee cowboy

lee cowboy

Rusty buttons.

lee cowboy

Lee Cowboy top button with oxidation.

lee cowboy

lee cowboy

Washed out black/red/gold Union Made waistband label. Early examples of Lee jeans have this label in the center of the waistband. They changed this around the late 1950s, early 1960s.

lee cowboy

lee cowboy

lee cowboy

Natural wear pattern.

lee cowboy

lee cowboy

lee cowboy

lee cowboy

lee cowboy

The jeans is made with right hand selvedge fabric instead of the typical Lee left hand fabric.

lee cowboy

Twisted legs.

lee cowboy

Single (one side or half) selvedge.

lee cowboy

lee cowboy

The back side shows a lot of wear and tear marks and sun bleached marks.

lee cowboy

Note that the pockets are more positioned to the sides on the jeans. They did this because these jeans were made for cowboys, and while sitting on their horse it was more comfortable when the pockets were placed like this. It made it also more easier to grab something out of your pockets while riding your horse.

lee cowboy

This ‘darts’ details shows that this pair is probably an early example of a pair of women’s Rider jeans.

lee cowboy

X-pocket reinforcement at the corners of the back pockets.

lee cowboy

In 1944 Lee Jeans introduced the Lazy S back pocket stitching. The stitches on both pockets resemble the shape of the famous long horns. The early versions of the backpocket stitching are all different and shows the operator skills behind each sewing machine.

lee cowboy

lee cowboy

The left backpocket. Lazy S stitch has a different shape than the right one.

lee cowboy

lee cowboy

Heavy holes on the backside in combination with sun bleach and dirt marks.

lee cowboy

lee cowboy

lee cowboy

Error in the fabric. Nowadays jeans with this kind of errors are sold as seconds, or not leaving the factory. These kind of errors are making the jeans more special. It also shows that the fabric was woven on an authentic shuttle loom which gave irregularities. That’s the beauty of vintage jeans.

lee cowboy

Heavy beaten-up hem with rust and wear signs.

lee cowboy

https://eu.lee.com

Watch also my other pair of original Lee Cowboy jeans from the 1940s here.

Written by Wouter
I'm the founder of Long John. Next to running this daily magazine I'm working as a freelance marketing specialist for brands and retail. Specialized in denim.