Vintage History
HISTORY OF WRANGLER JEANS AND JACKETS

While the WRANGLER Brand was originally registered ® by Casey Jones in 1905 and the origins of today’s Wrangler Company date back to Companies manufacturing under other names as early as the first decade of the 1900’s. We will start our story of the Wrangler History in the 1940’s when the Wrangler Product Line was first introduced.

In 1943, Blue Bell Inc. acquired the Casey Jones Inc. Company, owner of the Wrangler Name Brand. It was in 1947 that the employees of Blue Bell voted to name the new line of denim wear WRANGLER.

1940’s PERIOD

It was therefore in 1947 that the first model of Wrangler Jeans Model 11MW (Mens Western) were made using 11oz. denim and had a rust-proof button fly. Wrangler, like Lee initially used the arcuate stitch on the back pockets, but this was quickly replaced in 1948 with the “W” stitch. It is interesting to note that the Wrangler label or the back of the jeans has never been produced in leather. The Wrangler label was first made in pressed card and then in plastic for a simple reason. The Wrangler jeans were designed for cowboys and when the leather label and leather saddle came into contact they would stick together. These jeans had a “Blue Bell” label sewn on the back of the zipper fly with the sizing and the world “Sanforized”.

In 1948, Rodeo Ben, a famous rodeo personality and Hollywood Designer was commissioned by Blue Bell to design the new Wrangler Product Line.

In 1948, Wrangler introduced its first denim jacket, the Model 11MJ. It was produced with a button front until 1950 when the buttons were replaced by a zip front. The jacket featured vents on the back of the shoulder seams that were held in place by elastic strips sewn on the inside of the jackets. The design also included backstraps with buckles on the outside of the jackets. It was tailored to give a tighter fit and still allow free movement. The early design also featured the famous pleats along side the buttons in the front. The Wrangler labels sewn into these early products contained the Blue Bell Logo in addition to the Wrangler Name.

1950’s PERIOD

It was in the 1950’s that Blue Bell Inc. becomes the official licensee of Walt Disney Clothing. In 1951, the Second Edition Wrangler jacket included a zipper closure and was known as the 8MZ (Zipper) Model. Made in 8 oz. denim, some design changes were made from the first edition. The lower back of the jacket featured elasticated side details and sleeve vents. Unlike the First Edition, the 8MZ had only one breast pocket plus two front hip pockets as well. The winter version of the Second Edition producted from 1956 was known as the 8ML (Lined) model.

Other Wrangler Models introduced during this time were as follows:

The Wrangler 111MJZ was manufactured in similar design to the 11MJ except for a few minor alterations like the label. Wrangler like Lee and Levi also produced colored jackets during this decade. They produced colored jeans each time they produced a colored jacket. The Wrangler 22MJZ was produced in the late 50’s and early 60’s.

1960’s PERIOD

In 1964, Wrangler introduces the “Broken Twill” denim. Due to its unique structure, it prevents the jean leg from twisting, a common complaint of jeans owners.

The Wrangler 24MJZ came with two pockets located slightly higher than the previous model 11MJZ's. In place rivets were removed and the top buttons snapped like the ones on the sleeves. There were no changes in the back with the rubber sharrings and box pleats and eventually adjustment belts were added.

The Wrangler 20 MJL shared a similar design in the front of the jacket with the 24MJ Model. The “L” designation in this model stood for Lining which was used in this winter wear jacket.