The world’s best workwear brands
You almost certainly own workwear brands and pieces already: jeans, khakis, denim jackets, maybe a chore coat or a chambray shirt. Many wardrobe classics were designed for work – it’s hard, physical work – and it’s their simplicity and durability that has kept them on, many since the 1920s and 1930s. But workwear of today is composed of labels inspired by this robustness and this practicality to produce clothes which are at the same time functional but also stylish – sometimes by realizing complete reproductions, point to point; sometimes mixing and matching details to come up with a new idea of what easy and useful clothes could be. Its functionality, however, is only one of the reasons to appreciate work clothes. Stepped in history, workwear tends to attract a sort of nerd who can get lyrical about the backstory of a particular garment and who just might pay a fortune for an original copy of the same. These are work clothes that order megabucks in vintage collector circles. Alternatively, you can just wear it and enjoy the fact that it can handle whatever you throw at it.
What is work clothes?
Before you start thinking “shirt and tie,” work clothes probably aren’t something you actually wear to work, unless you’re employed in the construction industry or are a graphic designer. It is not the term imported from the United States “work clothes” – which means office attire. Rather, it is the kind of utilitarian clothing designed and built for manual labor, although stylistically it is rarely worn for it. And that’s no wonder, because while work clothes can be cheap – most are made simply and mass-produced, for practicality, no panache – nowadays they can also be expensive, with details. hard-to-make designs and exclusive fabrics. Workwear essentially encompasses clothing that draws inspiration from a blend of specialty, military and classic American sportswear, which in turn has proven to be the foundation of what is now called ‘heritage style. “. This has seen the revival of many dormant brands, but also an explosion of new brands that are rethinking the aesthetics of practical and comfortable workwear to give them a more contemporary touch. It helped workwear brands move beyond a style that made its wearers look like they were on a Depression-era construction site, and more like they were just wearing a cool and rugged casual dress with a functional curvature. Here’s workwear with plenty of pockets, in hard-wearing fabrics that get better with age, like cotton twill and denim, and, of course, with a slightly macho reminder that even though you can sit still. at a desk all day, deep down, you’re just one step away from being able to fell a tree or erect a wall.
The best brands of work clothes
It’s one name but two different products: In his native United States, Carhartt still makes “real” workwear, as it has done since 1889, recently becoming a favorite among skateboarders. In Europe, he’s still rooted in his roots, but offers a more contemporary take on hard-wearing chinos, sweatshirts, carpenter’s pants and his much-copied chore jacket, which dates back to 1917. Check out his underwear Carhartt WIP. brand for a more directional and streetwear-focused product.
Stan Ray, a Texan brand, has been making what they call clothing “with minimum fuss and maximum convenience” since 1972. Practical people surely love it, though it would be hard to mistake a pair of its. wide-legged chinos with a wrench – Yet, so far, when Stan Ray was originally launched as Stanley, the tool company of the same name took legal action and forced a name change . More recently, Stan Ray has expanded his collection to include more vibrant colors and more graphic prints.
One of the first modern brands to take inspiration from workwear, Engineered Garments makes – as the name suggests – garments that it believes are more ‘designed’ than designed. That’s the practical aesthetic of New York founder and outdoor enthusiast Daiki Suzuki, who launched the brand in 2002. Suzuki was previously design manager for Woolwich Woolen Mills, for which he won the prestigious CFDA award for best new designer of men’s clothing. Engineered Garments is best known for its Big Yank-inspired overshirts and semi-formal blazer-style jackets.
The Japanese are arguably the makers of the best workwear-inspired clothing of the day, following their famous love of denim and all things American. Orslow is touted as a timeless, anti-fast fashion brand with clothes often made using tedious artisanal methods. The clothes are classic – work pants, chambray shirts, denim jackets – but the fabrics are world class.
Newcastle-based Nigel Cabourn has been a menswear designer since the 1970s, when he also started collecting vintage military-style workwear, making his archives the world leader today. hui. This forms the basis for his contemporary updates to functional men’s clothing styles, from WWII British military pants to medical shirts and ape pants. Best known for its classic outerwear – like its cameramen or Mallory jackets – Cabourn is huge in Japan. More recently, he bought and relaunched the historic British workwear brand Lybro.
It’s not just American and British work clothes that have inspired new brands – Arpenteur takes inspiration from French men’s fashion, from the classic “blue work” work jacket to Breton tops and simple overshirts. Launched in 2011 by cousins Marc Asseily and Laurent Bourven, Arpenteur – which means ‘surveyor’ in French – delves into the archives of the old garment factories he works with, then gently updates them to create his easy styles and casual. Everything is also made in France.
Established in Chatre sur Cher in 1931, Danton once made appropriate work clothes, from gardening aprons to chef whites, as well as the sort of thing you would have seen on sweepers and masons. But thanks, of course, to the interest of the entrepreneurial Japanese menswear crowd, it became the last historic workwear brand to be reborn. Styles today include the twill jackets made by Danton 80 years ago, but now also encompass striped collar shirts, shawl collar pop-overs and t-shirts.
Work clothes don’t have to look back in style. Designer and denim expert William Kroll’s label Tender might turn to long-lost methods – not to mention Kroll’s British Rail uniform collection – but the results are decidedly modern. Old-fashioned methods of making a pocket or a shoulder finish, for example (and rarely used dyes like madder or log) come together in easy, hard-wearing clothing, all made in England.
Specifically known as the Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Company, founded in 1922, Dickies made a name for itself making uniforms during WWII and specialty clothing for workers in the 1950s oil boom. More recently, he became a streetwear favorite with his 874 work pant, a simple straight-leg chinos crafted in a multitude of shades from a durable, wrinkle-resistant poly-cotton twill. Wear them with Vans or, in winter, a sturdy pair of Red Wing boots.
American work clothes are not only a Japanese obsession, they are also very common in Germany. This is where Fabian Jedlitschka and his wife Anna Schafer created the American-sounding Pike Brothers. In fact, the name comes from a Notting Hill tailoring shop that made uniforms for the American military during World War II. Pike is best known for his custom fabrics – from the jungle fabric he woven for his deck jackets, to the indestructible “elephant skin” cotton he uses for vests and pants.
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