lee 101

The Special Premium Lee 101 Collection

Lee Jeans embrace and celebrate their long history with their premium Lee 101 collection. With this special premium collection, they produce for many years the finest denim styles that are inspired by their archival pieces. Made with the finest denim fabrics, mostly woven in Japan. They carefully select these Japanese fabric as it perfectly links to the high standards of the collection.

These selvedge fabrics are worldwide known as top-notch, construction-wise, but also when it comes to fading. The fading of your jeans and jackets is often described as the magical part by many denim enthusiasts all over the world. There’s an active denim community that only wears dry, rigid denim, so wearing jeans from scratch without any factory treatment. Even on social media, there are popular hashtags focused on this lifestyle, such as #selvedgedenim. And even a specific day is dedicated to this with #selvedgesunday.

lee 101 fall winter 2023

The Holy Grail Of Japanese Selvedge Fabrics

For many years, Japan could be seen as the holy grail when it comes to fabrics. And in particular to selvedge fabrics. This kind of fabrics are known for their unique character, look and feel. The texture of these fabrics shows the authentic look which can be seen on many vintage Lee jeans. These holy grail selvedge denim fabrics always start dry, so unwashed, but with time and wear they will slowly become softer and will shape to the wearer’s body type. During the wear process, the indigo will chip off the threads, and the white core of each thread will be more visible. This is a slow process and happens by the fact that indigo can’t penetrate the core of each thread during the indigo-dye process. This results in a not to replicate personal wear pattern for each wearer. It shows and reflects their unique lifestyle.

lee 101 fall winter 2023

The Authentic Weaving Process Of Selvedge Fabrics

Back in the day, all denim fabrics were woven on authentic shuttle looms. These looms were driven by a wooden shuttle that flows back and forth to weave a denim fabric. In Lee 101’s case, a 3 x 1 twill. Their Lot 29 and Lot 89 fabrics are repectively 28 and 29 inches wide. They can be recognized by the iconic self-edge finishes on both sides of the fabric. Back in the days, each denim brand of the so-called ‘Big 3’ American denim brands, had it’s own selvedge ID color to identify the specific brand.

Nowadays, these shuttle looms are still running at selected weavers around the world, specifically in Japan where they embrace heritage more than anywhere else. This weaving process is a slow process as each shuttle loom can only produce around 100 meters per 24-hour. A shuttle loom weaves 70 – 80 cm wide fabrics, while a modern projectile loom produces 140 – 150 cm wide fabrics (with no selvedge ID). In the end, you need more selvedge fabric to produce one single pair of jeans as there’s way more waste compared to using a non-selvedge fabric, woven on a projectile loom. This reflects in the end also the (retail) price, of course.

lee 101 fall winter 2023

The Selvedge Cornerstone Selvedge Fabric

Each Lee 101 collection contains a selection of premium woven selvedge fabrics. For this Fall Winter ’23 collection, Lee 101 selected a handful of special rigid fabrics that range from 11,5 oz Non-Stretch Cotton Hemp Selvedge Denim that is woven with 77% cotton and 23% hemp, to more heavy-weight 15oz Non-Stretch Recycled Cotton Lefthand Selvedge Denim fabrics that are 100% cotton.

One of the cornerstones within the Lee 101 collection is the so-called 89 fabric. This specific signature 15oz fabric is used on all the classic jeans fits such as the Lee 101 RiderLee 101 S, and the Lee 101 Z. It’s woven in the typical Lee lefthand twill fabric. Known for its extremely soft feeling over time, showing a single line selvedge ID.

The 89 selvedge fabric is dyed multiple times in indigo resulting in a deep indigo color. The yarns are specially ring-spun in Japan. This is to reach a higher quality finish that is strongly connected to the superior quality of the Lee 101 collection.

lee 101 fall winter 2023

The New Lee 101 Denim Campaign

The new Lee 101 Fall Winter ’23 campaign is made in collaboration with the London-based creative studio agency Arko. To shoot this outstanding campaign, they flew to Tokyo to create street style photography. This as a strong link between the Lee 101 brand and the denim culture from Japan.

lee 101 fall winter 2023

All the images are made by Studio Arko, provided by Lee. 

Production: Studio Arko @wearearkoPhotography: John Jarrett @_johnjarrett. DOP/Editor/Grade: @maynard.sabellano. Model: @galihrichrdson & @yu_______ki86.

Explore the full Lee 101 collection here: https://eu.lee.com/uk-en/lee101-inspire.html

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.