wrangler

The Launch Of Wrangler

The Wrangler brand was launched in 1947 in Greensboro, North Carolina. The first pair of jeans that came on the market by the Western cowboy focussed denim brand was the 11MW style. This name refers to 11oz and MW to Men’s Wear.

The 11MW pair is nowadays known as the ‘Proto Type’ amongst vintage denim collectors. A very rare collectors piece. But, later more about that. First, let’s go back to the start of the brand.

wrangler 11mw

wrangler 11mw

wrangler 11mw

wrangler 11mw

Before Wrangler Was Wrangler

In 1897, the 20-year old C.C. Hudson leaves Spring Hill Farm in Williamson County, Tennessee, seeking fortune in the emerging textile town of Greensboro, North Carolina. He finds work in an overall factory, sewing on buttons for 25 cents a day.

It was in 1904 that Hudson’s workplace was closed. He and a few others buy several of the sewing machines. C.C. Hudson and his brother, Homer, form the Hudson Overall Company, operating from a loft above Coe Brothers Grocery on South Elm Street in Greensboro. Later, in 1919, the sales of Hudson overalls were booming. The company moves to a larger headquarters and changed its name to Blue Bell Overall Company.

In 1926, Big Ben Manufacturing of Kentucky purchased the Blue Bell brand. The name of the merged companies remains Blue Bell; headquarters remain in Greensboro.

Years later, in 1943, Blue Bell acquired Casey Jones Company, a manufacturer of work clothing, and, with it, the rights to Casey Jones’ rarely used brand name, Wrangler. Four years later, in 1947, the Wrangler brand was officially launched. The authentic Western jeans brand was born. Their first jeans were designed by celebrity tailor Rodeo Ben, are were introduced to the American consumer.

wrangler 11mw

wrangler 11mw

wrangler 11mw

wrangler 11mw

wrangler 11mw

wrangler 11mw

wrangler 11mw

The Legendary 11MW Style

As said before, the first Wrangler jeans released was the 11MW style. These jeans were designed with functionality features with cowboys in mind; flat rivets that wouldn’t scratch your saddle, watch pockets, felled seams for a more comfortable cowboy ride and 7 belt loops rather than the usual 5.

On the back pockets were the arcuates stitched, which was quite common to use by many denim brands. But, as Levi’s registered their arcuates already in 1943, they had to remove these, and in 1948 they changed them into WW, which stands for Western Wear. So, the pre WW back pocket stitched pairs were only produced for one year. This makes these kind of Wrangler jeans vere rare, and a hard to get collector piece. That’s also the reason why this specific pair is known as the ‘Proto Type’ among collectors.

The patch on the back pocket was already there from the beginning.

wrangler 11mw

wrangler 11mw

wrangler 11mw

wrangler 11mw

wrangler 11mw

wrangler 11mw

Original Vintage 11MW Style

The highlighted pair of Wrangler jeans, a genuine 11MW, with still the arcuates on the back pockets is part of my private denim archive. It has achieved a very nice authentic vintage washed look during the years. On the back pockets, you can still see the arcuates although the thread is totally worn off. Also, the patch isn’t there anymore.

wrangler 11mw

wrangler 11mw

wrangler 11mw

wrangler 11mw

wrangler 11mw

wrangler 11mw

The Farm Where The Jeans Was Found

This Wrangler jeans is recently found in the Madera area, California at an old farm. The farm belonged to a Japanese family who became owners of the farm in the 1940s, after WW2. They were raisin farmers. The owner of the house passed away, and his 89-year-old brother was selling the land. So, he contacted family and friends to assist with items they may want to have before it went on sale.

It was Albert Zavala (@bigfroggy75 on Instagram) who went to the farm and dived into it in search of something special. He came across several old pairs of jeans from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, next to t-shirts, overalls, and sweats. They were all buried under piles of old stuff, boxes, and dirt.

Luckily he saved those pairs of jeans, and also this Wrangler 11MW jeans. Now, this pair of true American cowboy, and denim history, is added to my denim collection. A perfect vintage piece that kicked-off the American denim brand.

Below some beautiful shots made by Albert Zavala from the old farm.

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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 marketing specialist for brands and retail. Specialized in denim. Titled as 'Denim Influencer 2020' by Rivet 50.