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  • Ella Noonan

From Railroads to Riches - The Evolution of Carhartt

Carharrt is a widely recognised brand amongst the street wear scene, skateboarders and rappers alike, it's taken generations of subcultures by storm and it doesn't look like it's about to come to a halt anytime soon. The instantly recognisable yellow coloured C has been sported by the likes of Tupac, Kanye West, and Rihanna to name a few.

It hasn't always been a brand for the stars and the fashion conscious nor did it just skyrocket to the top over night. The year was 1889 when Hamilton Carhartt founded his Michigan based company, making work wear for railroad workers with their initial slogan being "Honest value for an honest dollar." Their clothing consisted primarily of denim and canvas overalls in earthy browns and blue tones. They prided themselves on good quality, durable garments that could endure the demands of heavy duty tasks. This legacy has continued into the present day with their clothing still being popular amongst construction workers. The fact their clothing was initially made with workmen in mind, meant that they were tailored to fit men of a larger build.

The 70's and 90's saw the brand being adopted by those within the music scene; first picked up within the 'punk' movement, shortly followed by rap and hip-hop. The baggy fitting silhouettes appealed to a sense of hyper-masculinity within the hip-hop scene. 100 years after the brand was initially founded, they expanded into Europe. Not long after, Carhartt WIP was born - the street wear addition to the brand. Something about wearing a brand rooted in history and with connotations of durability, meant it was a brand that could be trusted and relied on. Not to mention there's something humbling and honest about wearing a brand that stemmed from the working industries; it's stripped of any sort of pretentiousness that comes with a lot of designer brands that were also prominent at the time. In an era where names such as Dapper Dan were fuelling the hunger to dress head to toe in big brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton, there was still room for a simple american work wear brand.

Fashion is known to work in a cyclical nature at times, however it's apparent that the overtly masculine and loose fitting styles of the 80's and 90's have seemingly died out. Young Thug and ASAP Rocky are examples of how the music industry is a hub for expressing oneself through fashion and not being afraid to step out of the norm. In spite of trends constantly changing, Carhartt has remained a consistent staple, withstanding the tests of time.


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