THE ART OF BLUE COLLAR FASHION
by Reese Gorman
Clothing and styles most commonly associated with the working class have recently taken the entire fashion industry by storm. Brands that have been respected in the blue collar community for decades have come to the fashion forefront for many. What is with the sudden fascination?
The history of class systems being synonymous with particular clothing goes back as far as the Victorian era. A white dress shirt represented greater wealth, class, and distinction as people wearing a white color were able to keep it crisp and clean. Darker clothing was worn by the working class, whose main concern was comfort and durability throughout their work day. These items of clothing needed to be more flexible than the stiff white collar, as they were needed for high motion activities.
As the white dress shirt became more affordable and easier to clean over time, members of different classes were able to wear them. However, the terms and the movement towards comfortable work clothing for physically demanding jobs remains. This is what opened the door for the companies we know of today.
Carhartt was created in Detroit, Michigan in 1899 for railroad workers and was built around their motto of “honest value for an honest dollar”. This gave the company the goal of creating durable clothing that was comfortable and affordable. Within the next century the rest of the brands that we know such as Levi’s, Dickies, and Wrangler were created for similar reasons. These companies continued to gain popularity into the 20th century and ultimately were able to transition and evolve with the market’s demands.
Today many have found that comfort and sustainability is the number one key to being happy in their clothing. The baggy and worn style offers a comfort level in the clothing that many can appreciate. This appreciation came to the forefront in the 1980’s and 90’s when people began to see some of the most famous people in the world rocking workwear on their outings. It made wearing something durable and comfortable the cool thing to do.
With the rise of social media in the last decade, these brands have seen the spotlight more than ever before. The quality and comfort of the clothing has been in demand recently because it fits the narrative of the “anti-glamour” movement that the fashion industry has been experiencing. When people buy workwear, they know it is built to be durable and they won’t have to buy new clothing as often. This also attracts buyers looking to protect our planet from wasting resources.
When you walk around the campus of Ole Miss you may see someone working out at Campus Rec with a Carhartt hat on, or someone bundled up studying at the grove with a Dickies denim jacket on, or someone hanging out at the square with Levi’s jeans and a Carhartt tee. These brands have slowly started to be seen everywhere we go on this campus and due to college students striving for comfort in their everyday clothing, this trend is most likely here to stay.