To spoiler it right away: Even with Louis Vuitton’s recent reinterpretations of Carhartt chore jackets, workwear is not back. That’s because it never left. Quite the contrary, workwear has been claiming its secure spot in streetwear ever since Black and Latinx communities put their twist on Carhartt, Timberland boots and Dickies – among others – and turned blue-collar clothes into streetwear staples consequently.
Originally designed for durability and functionality in industrial settings, meaning construction sites, farming and the likes, workwear’s rise in everyday outfits was inevitable in hindsight thanks to its sturdiness and robustness: people just like stuff that lasts – and a beautiful patina over time never hurt anyone neither.
What catapulted workwear into the realm of streetwear worldwide, with an emphasis on ‘street’, was when now-iconic music videos by hip-hop artists like the Wu-Tang Clan and skateboarding videos in the 1990s immortalized (oversized) Carhartt jackets, Dickies pants, and other pieces usually found in hardware stores.
Aside from the fact that hip-hop culture always had a thing or two for decontextualizing clothing, workwear brands’ appeal to hip-hop heads (and skateboarders) can be broken down fast: They were affordable and robust. At the first dawn of baggy clothing, workwear offered XXXL clothing before fashion brands did so because hardware stores sold bigger sizes since forever. Plus what’s more “rough, rugged and raw” than apparel literally made for the street?
While workwear rose to popularity on all coasts, with Carhartt ruling the Eastcoast and Dickies being a little more popular on the Westcoast, the story of warm hiking and working boots developed more one-sided: it turned into an outfit mainstay solely (pun intended) on the Eastcoast – because winters in the Big Apple are just somehow colder than L.A. ones.
The preferred weapon of choice for New Yorkers thereby didn’t change much since the 90s: “Timbs”, aka Timberland boots, stay a symbol of authenticity and are tantamount with New York hip-hop – so much actually that
Noreaga N.O.R.E. once admitted in an interview that, after his move from New York to Miami, it only took him a couple of days until he called a friend to immediately send him some Timbs from his hometown because he felt weird in any other footwear.
At BSTN, you can find workwear-inspired wardrobe staples by Carhartt WIP, Dickies, Timberland, our titular hero Diemme alongside more brands from the BSTN portfolio that effortlessly bridge the gap between style and function.