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The History Of Carhartt Workwear

A time of steel, smoke and locomotives ...


Hamilton Carhartt started out with just two sewing machines. It was 1889, and after some initial failure, he talked to his target market (railroad workers) to find out what they wanted from their workwear ...

Hamilton Carhartt started out in 1889 to create gear for railroad workers!

Hamilton Carhartt started out in 1889 to create gear for railroad workers!

copyright: carhartt workwear

He coined the phrase "honest value for an honest dollar" and his first garment, the Carhartt union-made bib overall was a roaring success. By 1910, Hamilton Carhartt & Company had spread across the entire USA with fabric mills in the east, near to the cotton fields, sewing facilities in many cities, and even outlets in Liverpool and Paris.

The legendary Carhartt Chore Coat was introduced in 1923 and remains largely unchanged to this day.

Following Hamilton's death in 1937, his son, Wylie, took over. In the midsts of the Great Depression, Wylie opened new facilities in Kentucky in an attempt to raise workers out of poverty, offering them healthier conditions, union rates of pay and an environment away from the slums and sweatshops. Wylie's vision was also instrumental in creating the Super Dux and Super Fab hunting lines.

Wylie's daughter, Gretchen, married Robert Valade who assumed leadership in 1959. In 1972, Robert Valade, Gus Feles, and Don Rasinen bought Carhartt's first 'modern' production facility and were able to do a significant private label business for several stores including Sears, J.C. Penney and Montgomery Ward.

This allowed Carhartt the necessary revenue to continue to expand its production. In 1976, the hard-finish duck Active Jac was introduced in a 'Hoodie' form; the style remains the top-selling jacket for Carhartt today.

In the 70's, publicity from Carhartt gear being used by Alaskan Pipeline workers helped grow the brand and proved to the world their clothes could survive and thrive in the most rugged and tough corners of the world.

The Carhartt brand became an 'anti-fashion' icon in the 70's and 80's with the grunge and punk movements and later with the Hip Hop world. It remains popular with rappers to this day.

This led to the Carhartt Work In Progress (WIP) line, making Carhartt fashionable in Europe and Asia. It's worth noting that Carhartt WIP and Carhartt Workwear are not the same. WIP is made under license in the style of Carhartt Workwear.

In 1996, Mark Valade became the President of Carhartt. Mark took the company into the global market with European operations and online sales. He launched company-owned retail stores, a full line of women's workwear, and Flame-Resistant garments. Ever the visionary, he introduced new technologies such as Quick Duck®, Storm Defender®, Rain Defender®, Carhartt Force® and others.

Last year, over 7,000,000 garments were produced in Carhartt's American factories and, as a company, they are proud never to have stopped making workwear in the USA for 125 years.

At Rugged & Tough, we stock core Carhartt Workwear and would love to advise you on the right gear for your precise needs.

Do visit our website, come see us in-store just south of the Hockliffe lights on the A5 Watling Street, or give us a call on 01525 211488 and let's talk about your precise workwear needs.

Until next time ...



Don't forget that our inhouse branding service is available to anyone who needs branded workwear. We can help you whatever the quantity!

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More about Rugged & Tough ...

We stock the very best mens work and country clothing and kit. We use and wear the clothing we sell. We pride ourselves on our advice and support. We sell offline in-store and online Free UK delivery and returns. ''.... if it's not rugged & tough, we just won't stock it, in the store or online!''


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