Historic American brand Carhartt have deviated from their routes in functional work wear to become an extremely popular street brand in modern youth culture.
Today, we are reviewing their latest collectionin time for the AW14 season.
Named Carhartt Work in Progress, this off-shoot label was first created and popularized in the United States circa 1990 following a string of hipsters wearing the brand’s work apparels retro fashion pieces. Before long, Carhartt was picked up by an emerging urban youth culture in Europe too and there was clearly a gap in the market for the brand to exploit, it seemed that their straightforward, rugged style began to translate well into style.
The Michigan based label is renowned for use of canvas and robust denim, as well as simplicity and as always they are major characteristics of their latest collection. Overall the style is seen to be a fusion of contemporary and retro; their commitment to producing youthful clothing can be seen by the inclusion of edgy prints such as camouflage and this season, the leopard print t shirt in particular stands out.
Outstanding design combined with exceptional quality, durability and comfort is at the heart of the brand and that is a sentiment which could explain why they find themselves closely associated with the skateboarding and BMX scenes in particular, but also the much more mainstream “college” style of clothing which goes from strength to strength each season.
Having successfully re-shaped the brand’s legacy they have created a unique concept whereby work wear meets fashion, although some would argue this isn’t too dissimilar to other heritage American brands such as Levis, it has become what it is without the use of purely denim products.
Surely one of the only labels to pull off such a feat; Carhartt show a boldness which is likely to be the reason that their label appeals to the dynamic young generations and what got their clothing into the wardrobes of rap stars and celebrities along the way.
The brand’s age-old industrial prestige remains a predominant influence towards the Work in Progress line, constantly relating back to the DNA of the company which is seen by the inclusion of their “Vicious jeans” made in “rigid blue denim” for example.
Those buying from the latest collection are likely to be aware of Carhartt’s reputation as one of the brands at the forefront of urban movement, but the brand continue to prove their credentials in fashion are growing season by season and continue to strive for originality, by no means type-casting their product to certain styles.
Collage style is notably more popular in Europe than ever before and the college t-shirts are back with a vengeance, consistently popular for everyday casual wear.The raglan long sleeved t-shirt is one such item in this year’s line and features tidy rib cuffs and a small graphic brand print to offer fresh visuals.
The expansive range by Carhartt WIP has been extended to include new sweats, wallets and corduroy products. The drop is perhaps most notable for the corduroy jacket which could be a key piece in many styles this winter. Its Marlin navy colouring gives it a neutral aesthetic. Apart from two large pouch pockets on the waist and a smaller one on the chest both inside and out, there is four simple buttons to fasten it. This new rugged style is the perfect foil for a much more modern and bold design shirt with an all over print perhaps.
Carhartt’s wallet again follows the same design principles we are accustomed to with the rest of their brand. It has a simplistic and rugged feel with a quality leather finish, no frills or gimmicks attached, it has a functional feel but with the sort of finesse we have come to expect from the working man’s authentic American brand.
They have a reputation for being a tooth and nail tough clothing supplier, but that doesn’t mean to say they lack a simple ability to make their clothing tailored or fitted well. Rigid and shapeless cargo pants now make way for much thinner and pure cotton jeans for example. Collaborations have become increasingly higher end, and they have even introduced slim fit – the size any true fashion brand will specialize in. Darkened blues, blacks and maroons are still present to fit the Carhartt tradition, but the inclusion off prints, neon’s and bolder colours shows the unique adaptation the brand has undergone to become the fashion brand it is today.
On reflection, Carhartt is a brand famed for its durability and functionality, but on its venture into mainstream fashion they have retained these key marks of identity and have used it as a trademark of their in-house style- this is after all a reputation which has been built over a period of 120 years.
The youthful urban and streetwear scene is progressing all of the time with new brands adding their ideas; Carhartts input into this cultureis valued by those with a passion for it because it offers such a unique juxtaposition between new and old, fashion and function.
If you want to recreate the Carhartt look you can choose from a selection of different styles. The college look might include a basic Carhartt t-shirt accompanied by some converse or high top trainers and varsity jacket and standard skinny jeans. The great thing about an edgy urban style is that there are no rules and it is entirely feasible to pull off a retro number like the chambray shirt with a pair of daring camo shorts for example in the current season. Carhartt have a perfect selection of items to be able to do this on both ends of the spectrum with retro and modern designs stretching across the majority of staple items in the modern man’s wardrobe.
In a market dominated by high profile collaborations, Carhartt themselves are showing they can mix it with fashion’s elite. In their own words, Carhartt and A.P.C are in fact “boat mates” rather than collaborators, but whatever the arrangement-Carhartt’s style and quality is becoming more and more eclectic each year, far away from the functional roots in which they were initially famed for.
To brands latest collectionin for the AW14 season are available at stores and also at Mainline Menswear Website.