How Carhartt became an American fashion icon

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Carhartt has been the unofficial uniform of many of America’s hard-working laborers since 1889. Carhartt got its start outfitting railroad workers with overalls, but as the company expanded its product line to include canvas pants and jackets, everyone from farmers to construction workers started wearing the rugged clothing.

But Carhartt isn’t just some dusty legacy brand. Since the hip-hop community adopted the workwear style in the late 1980s, Carhartt gear has become a fashion staple.

In 1989, two Swiss designers, Edwin and Salomee Faeh, struck a licensing deal with Carhartt to create a tailored line of clothing called Work in Progress, featuring slimmer fits, a streetwear aesthetic and steeper price tags.

The fashion-forward line put the Carhartt brand in front of an entirely new customer base: streetwear enthusiasts. While workers were attracted to the functionality of Carhartt’s clothing. Hypebeasts were drawn to the authenticity of the brand.

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