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The Lee Mercantile company was founded by Henry David Lee in 1989, When Lee opened his first garment factory in Salina Kansas, producing dungarees and jackets. In 1912, the Union-All work jumpsuit was created, followed by the first ever 'Overall' in 1920, laying the foundation for Lee's early growth. Also in 1920, the Buddy Lee doll was launched for promotional use, however, quickly became popular play doll.

Through out the '20s, Lee introduced many new innovations to manufactured denim, most notably the zipper fly. Through the '30s, and '40s, Lee continued to build on their brand, becoming the nation's number 1 manufacturer of work clothes.

Come to the decades of the '50s, there was intense expansion for Lee as the company ventured into casual wear. Lee expanded its presence throughout the '60s spreading to 51 countries and consolidating with VF Corporation in 1969. The company continued to expand its fashion lines throughout the '70s and '80s and the '90s, launching Lee National Denim Day in 1996. Nowadays Lee is all about bringing more fits, styles, finishes, features and choices than ever before to market.