Founded in London’s East End in 1908, Lee Cooper has a rich history spanning over a century, establishing its iconic status as the Original British Denim brand. From humble beginnings in workwear, our brand has become known as a global style innovator and the go-to denim for legendary British rock ‘n’ roll bands.
Before there was Lee Cooper, there were the Cooper brothers – Louis, Phillip, Myer, and Morris Cooper. Fleeing war in their home country of Lithuania, the four brothers chose to relocate to Johannesburg to make their mark and seek their fortunes. The brothers set up their own custom waistcoat tailoring business, catering mainly to the native population.
Their elaborately embellished waistcoats made a big impact and the business took off. Looking to broaden their horizons, the brothers headed to the UK with a plan to open a new workshop.
The heritage of the pioneering principles established by Morris Copper have informed our latest line of premium selvedge denim – The Cooper Collection.
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The Lee Cooper journey began in 1908 as Europe’s first, authentic denim brand. Born in the East End of London, Morris Cooper established a workwear production company called The Morris Cooper Factory. Cooper built up a strong reputation for producing durable and long lasting workwear and overalls.
1900s – 1920s
With the arrival of the First World War the company converted its production to military uniforms for the British troops.
At the end of war, Lee Cooper started to reinvent jeans as fashion. Harold Cooper, Morris’s son, took over the factory after his father’s death and established the new direction of workwear to jeans production and the now famous brand name ‘Lee Cooper’ was born. Within two years, Lee Cooper was at the forefront of bringing denim jeans to the UK market.
Rock ‘n’ roll was born! Lee Cooper was the first ‘jeans brand’ to recognise the link between music and fashion, and has tapped into the vibrant undercurrent of musical youth ever since. Throughout its history the brand has worked with legendary artists including the Rolling Stones, UB40, Serge Gainsbourg and Rod Stewart. During the 1950s the brand also appeared in print advertising for the first time.
Lee Cooper made headlines by introducing the first jeans for women with a ‘front zip’, causing a stir and public outcry. The range for women increased in size and a wider selection of styles was put on the market. The vibrant 60s inspired a new range of Lee Cooper coloured jeans that took London by storm.
The 70s saw Lee Cooper’s innovative fashions assist in defining the disco decade. Hipster jeans were high trend and saw Lee Cooper work with Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin who were constantly seen donning a pair of Lee Cooper jeans. In 1971 Lee Cooper turned heads across Europe with its mini skirt and the introduction of the first 32” bellbottom flare.
In the 1980s, a sponsorship with The Rolling Stones took the Lee Cooper brand across the world, establishing Lee Cooper as the go-to brand for rock stars and music fans. Legendary fashion photographer and artist Jean Paul Goude was brought on board to launch the first ‘jogging jean’ with his innovative, yet unorthodox approach to the campaign.
The long standing Lee Cooper logo was refreshed to the one that we recognise today. Lee Cooper also launched an exciting new collection called ‘3 by 1’ – the first five pocket slack jean to hit the market.
Lee Cooper collaborated with Europe’s ‘IT’ girl, French model and actress, Lou Doillon. The collaboration celebrated the brand’s heritage with previous brand ambassadors and Doillon’s parents, the legendary Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. During this time, Lee Cooper released a clothing range inspired by The Beatles.
Lee Cooper celebrated its 100th year anniversary. With a rich history as the original British denim brand and a century worth of expertise, Lee Cooper celebrated by supplying denim jackets and suits for over 1,200 members of the British Olympic and para-Olympic team for the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Lee Cooper launches a highly collectible, artisan selvedge denim range – The Cooper Collection – a nod to where it all began for the brand in 1908 and a celebration of the craftsmanship and quality that has driven Lee Cooper ever since.