Henry David Lee established the H.D. Lee Mercantile Company a wholesale grocery distributor in Salina,
Kansas in 1889. His timing was perfect- meeting a major need in a region of the country where the
population was growing exponentially.
In 1895, Lee recognized the need to handle larger shipments of perishable goods and established Kansas
Ice & Cold Storage Company. The mercantile business also paved the way for the H.D. Lee Flour Mills,
which made profitable use of the large amounts of grain received in trade
In 1912, unhappy with the quality and inconsistent delivery of workwear from suppliers, Lee decided his
company could do better and opened a factory to sew overalls and jackets
In 1913, Lee introduced the Union-All work jumpsuit which quickly made Lee a household name, and spurred
the opening of manufacturing plants across the country
In 1920, the Buddy Lee doll was introduced to promote Lee overalls. Over the next 40 years, he became
prominent in the promotions of each new product introduced by Lee
Through the ’20s, Lee introduced many new innovations-from a stronger, more durable denim fabric for workwear
to cowboy pants for working and rodeo cowboys. Most notably, Lee introduced the zipper fly in cowboy pants
and zip-front overalls and coveralls. Throughout the ’30s and ’40s Lee continued to build on their brand,
becoming the nation’s #1 manufacturer of work clothes
The decade of the ’50s was a time of intense expansion for Lee as the company ventured into casual wear.
Lee expanded its presence throughout the ’60s, spreading to 51 countries and was purchased by VF Corporation in 1969
The company continued to expand its fashion lines throughout the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, and launched Lee National Denim Day in 1996
Today’s Lee is all about bringing more fits, styles, finishes, features and choices than ever before to the market
We believe in quality. We believe that the manufacturer or the merchant who builds with quality as a foundation stone,
builds for permanence and prosperity. We prefer to sell one garment of highest quality to one hundred of inferior grade.
It means better business and greater satisfaction for us, for you and for the customer.”