So much of Tokyo is tucked away in a small alleyways or hidden upstairs in a plain-looking office buildings that if you aren’t actively looking for things you probably won’t find the really good stuff. Part of this is because Tokyo rents are amazingly expensive, and part of it seems to be based on the thrill of the hunt. Such is the case for the vintage shop Pueblo. The owner Eiji Asakawa keeps a sign out front, but unless you know what you are looking for or are an adventurous sort you are probably going to miss the place. There are so many randomly named places in Harajuku that if you were to check everything out you would probably just spend most of your day discovering hair salons. The Japanese obsession with hair is something I can’t even begin to understand. The Japanese obsession with vintage Americana, that I have a better idea about.
Carhartt makes a lot of clothing in the U.S. (57 million garments since 1998), probably more than many people realize. The hard-working family owned Michigan outfitter hasn’t done much up until now to let people know just how much the brand produces domestically. That’s probably because it is an old school and humble Midwest company that prefers to let the conversation be about making quality stuff that keeps people safe and dry and warm. Carhartt is also a complex business that operates in a very competitive marketplace, a market that serves hardworking people who need to be very conscious of price.
While I know the Carhartt has been making clothing in the U.S. since Hamilton Carhartt founded the company in 1889, it hasn’t stopped me from being critical of the company at times. I have done this because, up until now, more emphasis has not been placed on made in USA. Every time I saw the Adam Kimmel collection I wished it was made here. To me, being made in the U.S.A. would have been the most interesting aspect of that type of collaboration collection, one that is clearly was targeted at a different consumer.
With the release of this new Made in USA Collection, the iconic workwear outfitter has made a commitment to offering U.S. made versions of its seven most popular pieces. Apparently, the creation of this collection is a direct response to consumers who wanted the option to buy domestically made goods.
My love of Red Wing began early one Saturday morning when I was thirteen years old. My father came into my room and woke me up and drove me to the Red Wing store in my hometown on the East Side of Cleveland to get my first pair of work boots. The excitement of the gift of work boots from my dad quickly faded when I realized that I was then being conscripted into weekends and summers of manual labor. What I leaned about working for my dad was sort of surprising to me; I loved working outside and I loved manual labor. When the job was done, you are done. And each day held huge feelings of accomplishment. It was through this experience that my life long appreciation and connection to the Red Wing Shoe Company was forged.
A great part of buying a Goodyear-welted boot was the fact that I could have them re-soled, and even have it done multiple times. When you are doing physical work on your feet all day, it doesn’t take you long to realize that breaking in new boots adds a seriously unwanted wrinkle into earning a paycheck. My solution was to own two pairs of Red Wings. When the soles on one pair would wear out, I would send them in to be re-soled and would wear the back up pair while they were away. So if a pair was at the factory being re-crafted, the other pair would be comfortably on my feet. For me, breaking in new boots on the job was a thing of the past.
I first heard a few month’s back that Greg Chapman (who most recently launched the Perfecto Brand for Schott NYC), Nate Warkentin and Chris Grodzki (from Stanley & Sons) were all working together on a new collection of workwear called H.W. Carter & Sons. The thing was, it wasn’t necessarily all new. The mark and rights to H.W. Carter & Sons was acquired and Greg, Nate and Chris got together to put a collection together and relaunch the company, one of America’s oldest work clothing makers. Along the way Greg came to me for some marketing help and we (by we I mean Paul + Williams) started working with the brand (full disclosure and all that good stuff). The interesting thing is, H.W. Carter’s & Sons is an old company. Originally founded back in 1859 by Henry W. Carter in Lebanon, New Hampshire it soon after became widely regarded (especially in New England) for its overalls and workwear. Henry Carter himself became widely known as a showman and extravagant fellow, often marketing his company wildly throughout the Northeast.
Tucked at the end of Extra Place — an alley off of Bowery — sits New York’s coolest new shop Extra. If you don’t take care and pay special attention the shop can be difficult to find, but it is certainly worth it. To be honest, when I saw the address for the first time I didn’t even think it was in Manhattan. The shop’s proprietor is a very nice man named Koji Kusakabe who’s a long time (and much respected) vintage hunter. This fact becomes very obvious when you step foot in the modest space and see all of the treasures that are on offer. In addition to a whole host of vintage gems and collectibles, Koji stocks new goods from Engineered Garments and Post Overalls. The man has a knack for vintage and workwear, it’s a beautiful thing.
Go, go to your archives. That was the call, and Fort Worth-based-workwear-juggernaut Dickies heard it and is re-releasing its “Uniform Shirt” ($175) and “Uniform Pant” ($200) this coming July. Both pieces — part of the company’s new 1922 Collection, which will initially be available at Unionmade in S.F., Stronghold in L.A. and Luther’s in Austin — are made in the United States at the oldest and longest continuously operating Dickies factory in Uvalde, Texas. Boom.
Made from twill Type I Cramerton Army Cloth, both the Uniform Shirt and the pants come in two color variants — Khaki and Suntan. The 1922 shirt comes two ways, with short or long sleeves and the pants are offered either hemmed or cuffed. This is a small start, but hopefully this will be a beginning to a larger movement of American production from Dickies.