Wrangler Jeans were first made by Blue Bell, who acquired the brand when they took over Casey Jones in the mid-1940s. Blue Bell employed Bernard Lichtenstein ('Rodeo Ben'), a Polish tailor from Łódź who worked closely with cowboys, to help design jeans suitable for rodeo use. This was the origin of Wrangler Jeans. The 13MWZ style, introduced in 1947 as lot number 11MWZ, is still available worldwide. In addition to this, Wrangler has since introduced several other lines that are more designated towards a specific group or demographic. Some examples of this are 20X, Riggs, and Aura.
Wrangler also has a line of music accessories targeted toward country music fans.
1897: Twenty-year-old C.C. Hudson leaves Spring Hill Farm in Williamson County, Tennessee, and makes his way to North Carolina, seeking his fortune in the emerging textile industry. He finds work in a factory making overalls, where he earns 25 cents a day sewing on buttons.
1904; Hudson's workplace closes. He and a few others buy several of the sewing machines, lease space above a downtown grocery store and incorporate as the Hudson Overall Company.
1919: The business builds its first factory on the corner of South Elm Street and changes its name to Blue Bell Overall Company. Legend has it that a group of railroad workers who bought overalls at the Hudson store gave C.C. Hudson a bell, and after spending time in the factory, the bell like everything else became covered in blue denim dust, hence "Blue Bell."
1943: Blue Bell acquires the Casey Jones Work-Clothes Company and the rights to a rarely used Casey Jones brand name: Wrangler.
1946: Blue Bell starts to develop a jeans line for cowboys, hiring famous tailor Rodeo Ben. Blue Bell workers take part in a contest to give the jeans a brand name. The winning name is Wrangler, synonymous with the name for a working cowboy.
1947: After designing and testing 13 pairs of prototype jeans, Blue Bell introduces the Wrangler 11MWZ to American consumers. The Wrangler Jeans featured several innovations aimed particularly at cowboys: Felled outseams and inseams, rear pockets positioned for comfort in the saddle, 'no scratch' rivet pocket reinforcement, a zipper fly, and use of a strong tack in the crotch instead of a metal rivet. A promotional campaign is launched featuring 11MWZ test riders and rodeo legends Freckles Brown, Bill Linderman, and Jim Shoulders.
1952: Lot number 11MWZ is renamed 13MWZ to conform to the 13 oz. per yard denim weight being used to manufacture the style.
1962: Blue Bell opens a factory in Belgium and the Wrangler brand name enjoys a successful launch in Europe.
1973: Wrangler jeans become an icon of youth culture, synonymous with teenagers the world over.
1974: The Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association of American (PRCA) officially endorses Wrangler Jeans.
1983: Wrangler sponsor European Football champions Nottingham Forest F.C.
1986: Blue Bell merges with the VF Corporation of Pennsylvania, preparing the ground for the global success of the Wrangler brand.
1996: One of every five pairs of jeans sold in America is a Wrangler.
1997: The 50th anniversary of the 13MWZ. A Special Collectors Edition of the 13MWZ is created to celebrate this event.
2000: Whatever You Ride" television ad campaign is launched, focusing on core brand values.
2001: Wrangler commences making its jeans in Mexico.
2002: "There's a bit of the West in all of us" TV and print ad campaign is launched, staying true to Wrangler's unique heritage while shifting it to a modern European setting.
2004: A new Wrangler European print campaign is launched, "Wanted," representing a powerful modern expression of Wrangler's roots. Wrangler also celebrates 100 years of manufacturing quality denim by producing Blue Bell by Wrangler, a limited edition collection that reproduces the first Wrangler jeans right down to the last detail and is only available at selected premium stores. Wrangler also reworks the mainstream collection, producing new fits using icons inspired by the very first jeans designed by Rodeo Ben. The Wrangler brand is now recognized in 22 European countries.
2005: Wrangler's last U.S. sewing plant is closed.
From 19821983, Dale Earnhardt drove a blue and yellow # 15 Wrangler Ford in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series for car owner Bud Moore. Wrangler followed Earnhardt to Richard Childress Racing number 3. They also stayed on that year with Bud Moore and driver Ricky Rudd. In 1988, the primary sponsor became GM Goodwrench and the car was painted black. He became known as the "Man In Black," but Wrangler was still an associate sponsor. Earnhardt raced in the Wrangler colors again at the 1999 Winston. The car is now on display at the RCR museum, curated by one of Dale's former crew members, gasman Danny "Chocolate" Myers. A 1987 Wrangler Chevrolet is also on display at the museum. Currently, Wrangler has an associate sponsorship deal with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. who has appeared in several commercials for the famed jean company. Dale Jr. won in a #3 Wrangler car on July 2, 2010 at Daytona, in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
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