I was invited last Thursday to attend the Lee 125 Year Collection Press Breakfast in Neal Street, next to Covent Garden, from 8am to 10am. That morning, I managed to hear the alarm before than usual, got dressed and pulled on some make-up to hide my tired eyes. The sun was finally out after a night of heavy rain. I entered the crowded tube at 8.30am and got out at Covent Garden. I walked towards Neal Street, the streets were empty and all the shops were still closed. Whilst I was walking I realised that I was smiling like a dum at the blue sky, and I must be honest, the sun was the main reason which pushed me out of bed, because if it was still raining I would have enjoyed the bed for another hour.
I reached the front door of the Lee store and I was kindly invited to grab a coffee, juices and some sugary snacks. I walked my way through the crowded people taking a glimpse of the new collection, until I arrived at the coffee stand and found someone smiling at me and willing to show me around. Lee is a historic brand, come on who doesn’t own a pair of Lee Jeans? And guess what, they are the ones who invented the Jeans overall. This year Lee decided to pair up with some of their four favorite labels, to re-imagine their iconic and most popular pieces. Special and exciting events will be running all yearlong to celebrate their 125 years of success.
I was presented to Donwan Harell, creative direct of luxury denim brand Prps, which showed me his facet of the collection. I was then presented to the other designs from Emma François of womenswear brand Sessun; Swedish denim king Orjan Andersson, and Belgian design trio Sarah and Carol Piron and Gregory Derkenne of Filles à Papa. These friends of Lee brought their own left-field take on style, creating four distinct collections which everybody would want to wear. With each designer already the founder of their own successful brand, they perfectly embody Lee’s worker-doer aesthetic.
For Lee Men, Andersson’s DIY alternative approach to design is perfect to bring a contemporary, upbeat character to the project. Clean pared-down washes is combined with patched and repaired black denim with a rock aesthetic look. Örjan celebrates Lee’s trademark denim with a simple slim unisex silhouette. And genius denim connoisseur Donwan Harrell of US-based luxury menswear outfit Prps adds his own brand of design magic, bringing confident finishes and exciting visual washes to the party.
For Lee Women, the Belgian design trio behind cult womenswear brand Filles à Papa – sisters Sarah and Carol Piron and Gregory Derkenne – create a sexy, night-time and casual look via their shared love of American sportswear, distinct sense of coolness, and rock ‘n’ roll edge. This is balanced with the fresh and feminine aesthetic of Emma François, founder of Parisian womenswear label Sessùn, who works with Lee to bring her refined, upscale design to the project. Finding inspiration in distant cultures, music, art and second-hand culture, it might be a tiny fragment, or subtle discovery, on which the collection is built. As such, Emma’s focus is firmly on the detail, an approach shared by Lee.
This breakfast made me understand how truly unique the heritage of Lee is but also how contemporary this brand is, always bringing new ideas and creators especially this year with the celebration of their denim brand 125th anniversary.