#CCIndex is a compendium providing the need-to-knows of the movers and shakers of street culture, regionally and internationally.
Founded by Hamilton Carhartt in 1889, Carhartt is known for its durable and functional work clothes originally designed for manual labourers in the United States. Despite its initial focus to cater to workmen, there has been a growing and steady demand in the streetwear scene where they have gone to create their own line of streetwear clothing under the name Carhartt Work In Progress (WIP).
Starting out with 2 sewing machines and 5 employees in an attic in Detroit, Carhartt established the needs and wants of railway workers and slowly crafted the signature overall bib we know today. Since Detroit was the main business district of America, it was a smart move for Carhartt to offer their heavy-duty workwear and it has been the go-to brand for all workwear needs as its signature construction techniques guaranteed quality and aesthetics at the same time.
Fast forward to the early 90s, Carhartt began marking their presence in the streetwear scene after displaying its iconic outdoor working jacket at New York fashion shows for the first time ever in 1991. The utility and workwear trend was picking up when Carhartt was adorned by many on the streets and slowly caught the attention of rappers and hip hop stars.
“I’ve always said that Carhartt didn’t choose the culture, the culture chose the brand,” Michel Lebugle, co-editor of the brand’s history, Carhartt WIP Archives, told Dazed in 2016.
This was how Carhartt founded Carhartt WIP in 1989 which was first introduced to the European market by German denim entrepreneur, Edwin Faeh – delivering contemporary and cleaner silhouettes for the streetwear scene. The success was prominent in the skateboarding community during the 90s due to its impact from hip-hop. From Wu-Tang Clan to Dr Dre, the Carhartt jackets and shirts never seem to go out of fashion as we see it on today’s artists such as Kanye West and A$AP Rocky.
Most notably, the American brand was not afraid to widen the scope for a bigger streetwear audience. Collaborations with other brands such as A.P.C, FPAR, Stussy, Nike and many more shows its dominance in the market and it will still in the years to come.