Our History

Our History and Heritage

The unparalleled heritage and authenticity of our brands has forged a unique emotional connection with consumers globally, earned through a consistent track record of product innovation, quality and trend-setting. Our iconic brands carry a combined heritage of more than 200 years.

1900s

C.C. Hudson and his brother form the Hudson Overall Company, later to be named Blue Bell Operating Company, located in a loft above Coe Brothers Grocery on South Elm Street in Greensboro, NC.

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1910s

Unhappy with the quality and inconsistent delivery of workwear from suppliers, Henry David Lee decides his own company, H.D. Lee Mercantile Company, could do better and opened a factory to sew overalls and jackets.

1910s

Sales of Hudson overalls are booming. The company expands to a larger headquarters and changes its name to Blue Bell Overall Company, later to be renamed Blue Bell following the merger with Big Ben Manufacturing of Kentucky.

1920s

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®.

1940s

Blue Bell acquires Casey Jones Company, a manufacturer of work-clothing, and with it, the rights to Casey Jones' rarely used brand name - Wrangler®.

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1960s

Blue Bell opens a plant in Belgium and the Wrangler® brand is successfully launched in Europe.

1960s

Now available in 51 countries and having expanded into casual wear, Lee® is purchased by VF Corporation

1970s

Wrangler® jeans and shirts become the first, and still only, western wear brand to be officially endorsed by the Pro Rodeo Cowboy Association.

1980s

Blue Bell merges with VF Corporation of Pennsylvania, making VF one of the two largest jeans makers in the world.

1990s

Wrangler® becomes the #1 market share leader in the U.S.; one out of every four males in the U.S. is wearing a Wrangler® jean.

2000s

VF Jeanswear adds two new brands to the Wrangler® family: RIGGS WORKWEAR® by Wrangler®, a line of premium work clothes, and Wrangler® ProGear™ hunting apparel for the serious sportsman. The George Strait Cowboy Cut collection is also introduced.

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2010s

VF Jeanswear acquires Rock and Republic Enterprises, Inc., makers of Rock & Republic® denim and apparel.

2010s

2018 - In August 2018, VF announces that the company intends to seperate into two independent, publicly traded companies - VF and a new Kontoor Brandsd Kontoor Brands, Inc. comprising VF's Jeanswear brands, including Wrangler®, Lee® and Rock & Republic®, and the VF Outlet business.

2010s

On May 23, 2019, Kontoor Brands, Inc. becomes an independent, publicly taded company listed on the NYSE (NYSE: KTB). A global lifestyle apparel company, Kontoor Brands' portfolio includes some of the world's most iconic denim brands: Wrangler®, Lee® and Rock & Republic®.