The History of American Denim: Wrangler Jeans
Representing grit, freedom and independence, Wrangler has been an icon of American fashion for over 75 years. Worn by cowboys, rockstars, racers, and rebels, Wrangler Jeans is more than a garment. They embody self-expression and carry the memories, spirit, and lives of those who believe in individuality. It all began in the Southern US, around the 1800s with the brilliant C.C. Hudson.
At 20 years of age, this farm boy from Tennessee set out to Greensboro, NC, where he learned to sew buttons on Dungarees or protective clothing. Seventeen years later, the factory shut down, and Hudson, along with his brother Homer started the Hudson Overall Company.
Over the next 15 years, the company expanded to a larger warehouse and took on the name Blue Bell Overall Company.
The Foundation of the Wrangler Jeans Brand
Blue Bell, who were known for making Super Big Ben Overalls with 100% sanforized fabric, purchased the Casey Jones Work-Clothes company along with the rights to its now famous brand name, Wrangler, in the mid-1940s.
In 1947, the company brought in the celebrity tailor Bernard Lichtenstein (or Rodeo Ben) to develop a line of jeans that would cater to cowboys and rodeo. This was when the Wrangler Jeans brand originated.
Wrangler Logo: The Founding Signifier
Catering to the rodeo realm, the original Wrangler logo was fashioned from a single cowboy lasso in handwriting script. However, the logo was completely revamped in the 1960s and was bolder, sharper, and a catchy, unique G. You’ll also find that the international brand logo, which is currently in use, was reformed in 2011, inspired by the original wordmark but without the lasso print.
The Beginnings of the Wrangler Jeans Era
Over 13 pairs of prototype denim were designed and tested before the Wrangler 11MWZ was introduced to the American public. These cowboy jeans had felled outseams and inseams, rear pockets for in-saddle comfort, no rivets, and a zipper fly. The public saw famous riding legends don these jeans and quickly followed que to stay in trend.
While the cowboy cut was eventually remade into the 13MWZ (13 oz. of denim), the 11MWZ remains the classic Wrangler jeans. The broken twill denim texture offered a more balanced structure to the fabric, adding to the riding comfort of cowboys.
The Brand Expands!
Wrangler was on the road to success in the 50s and became the first partner of the Pro Rodeo Cowboy Association. In 1962, Blue Bell opened its first European factory in Belgium, where the Wrangler brand established itself as an icon for youth and American culture. The company merged with VF Corp in 1986 and continued to grow under its unique heading.
Today, Wrangler continues to embellish its American tradition in fashion and culture. The signature 'W' has become the most recognizable symbol in the world of denim. And the brand remains synonymous with the three pillars of Southern life: rodeo, NASCAR, and country music.
Image Credits: Wrangler US