Lee is an American apparel brand founded in 1889 in Merriam, Kansas, United States, by Henry David Lee. The clothing-retail company creates a variety of designer jeans, shorts, and shirts for women and men.
The American fashion group Kontoor Brands now owns Lee and other iconic brands, such as Wrangler, Rock & Republic, and more. It also runs the VF Outlet chain of factory outlet stores.
Lee focuses on timeless denim design and innovative apparel collections to empower consumers toward a more sustainable future. Its global sustainability platform builds a stronger, more sustainable world.
Lee offers clothing and accessories made from recycled and more responsibly sourced materials. It specializes in jeans that help you show Earth-friendly values.
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Sustainability Rating: 6/10
Category: Clothing, accessories
For: Women, men
Type: Basics, denim, knitwear, loungewear, outerwear
Sizes: XS-4XL, 2-18 (US), 4-20 (UK), 34-48 (EU), 4-20 (AU), plus size
Fabrics: Cotton, linen, hemp, lyocell, modal, viscose, polyester, nylon, spandex, acrylic, leather, wool
100% Organic: No
100% Vegan: No
Ethical & Fair: Yes
Producing countries: Argentina, Brazil, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Canada, China, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, South Korea, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Nicaragua, Macedonia, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United States, Vietnam
Certifications: BCI, FSC, BSCI, WRAP
Lee is committed to strengthening its corporate governance, environmental footprint, and social impact. It continues to progress and recognizes that it has much more to do.
Lee views sustainability as a powerful enabler of its long-term strategy for growth and success. It started water savings, responsible sourcing, and workplace safety initiatives.
Lee uses innovation, design, and sustainable performance to excite more and more consumers. It aims to inspire people to live with passion and confidence.
Lee helps push the industry and its suppliers to adopt more sustainable practices while cutting emissions. It constantly improves its sustainable products and product transparency.
Lee only uses a medium proportion of organic materials such as organic cotton and hemp or recycled materials such as recycled polyester and recycled cotton.
Lee aims to source materials and apparel in ways that are good for people and the planet. However, it dedicates only a few collections to sustainable fashion.
Most of the fabrics it uses are either natural without relevant certifications, such as regular cotton or linen, or synthetic petroleum-based fibers such as polyester, nylon, acrylic, and more.
Lee also uses a small amount of semi-synthetic fibers or regenerated cellulosic fabrics such as Tencel lyocell, modal, and viscose.
Tencel is an eco-friendly fiber made with wood pulp from certified sustainable forests. But only a medium proportion of the materials used by Lee are environmentally friendly and sustainable.
Lee publishes a list of all its manufacturers on its corporate website, kontoorbrands.com. It aims to ensure the safety of the people who work in its operations and supply chain.
Lee cares about its suppliers with higher transparency and worker empowerment initiatives. But the brand still doesn't pay a living wage across its supply chain.
The 2021 Fashion Transparency Index gave Lee a score of only 34% based on how much the group discloses about its social and environmental policies, practices, and impacts.
Lee manufactures its clothes in China and many other East Asian countries, where human rights and labor law violations still happen every day.
The clothing retailer demonstrates labor certification standard that ensures good working conditions, health, safety, and other human rights for workers in its supply chain.
Lee has a Code of Conduct that applies to all its suppliers and subcontractors to understand the risks facing workers and make positive changes throughout its supply chain.
Lee assesses compliance with its Code of Conduct with audits conducted either by a Factory Compliance Auditor or an accredited third-party audit company. Its audit program has a strong focus on worker health and safety.
Lee doesn't use exotic animal skin, hair, fur, or angora. But it uses leather and wool to manufacture many of its clothing pieces.
These animal-derived materials are cruel and unethical. They also harm the environment by producing greenhouse gases and waste. More sustainable alternatives exist.
Lee has committed to reducing its environmental impact across the entire supply chain. Its goal is to save 10 billion liters of water by 2025. It also aims to use 100% sustainably grown or recycled cotton by 2025.
Lee will source 100% sustainable cotton, synthetics, animal-derived materials, and forest-derived materials by 2030. Its goal is to source all four types sustainably by 2030.
Lee has committed to power 100% of owned and operated facilities with renewable energy by 2025. It will establish a science-based GHG emissions target by 2022.
Lee has committed to only working with factories that support worker well-being or a community development program by 2025.
Discover Lee's sustainable collections at Lee.com.
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