How Workwear Became an Obsession in the Fashion Industry

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Workwear labels and items are almost definitely already in your closet: jeans, khakis, denim jackets, perhaps a chore coat, or a chambray shirt. Most wardrobe masterpieces were created for working in – that is, hard, physical work – and it is because of their simplicity and sturdiness that they have lasted so long, many dating back to the 1920s and 1930s.

However, today’s workwear is composed of labels that derive from this toughness and practicality to create clothes that are both usable and stylish – often by making exact, stitch-for-stitch replicas and other times by mashing up specifics to come up with a viable idea of what simple, valuable clothing could be.

Workwear’s usefulness isn’t the only reason to like it. Workwear attracts a nerdish type who can wax lyrical about a specific garment’s background and would gladly spend a fortune for an authentic version of the same.

Workwear has been a fixture on the streetwear scene for years, and it shows no signs of going away. Workwear-inspired fashion, on the other hand, seems to be gaining traction. With that in mind, let’s look at how workwear has inspired street style and where these inspirations may be discovered.


What Exactly is Workwear?

Workwear is the piece of fabric worn when performing manual work, as the title indicates. It typically consists of strong denim, wool, or canvas pieces that are more concerned with safety and convenience than fashion. As a result, railroad employees, farmers, miners, mechanics, and maintenance workers are especially fond of such uniform solutions.

Workwear, on the other hand, has a local definition in the fashion world. It refers to the clothing worn by American manual laborers during the so-called Fordist era, which lasted from the 1920s until the 1970s.

Workers wore chore coats, dungarees, engineer jackets, and clothes with several pockets and equipment holders in this era. The majority of these components have now made their way into the fashion business, particularly the streetwear segment.

Workwear-Influenced Street Cultures

Although it may appear to the inexperienced eye that all street cultures are similar, this is not the case. In reality, mixing skaters and hip-hoppers, or both of them with punks would almost certainly result in a few ugly stares. As all of these subgenres adopted workwear to some extent, we’ll focus on the ones who went the extra mile.


Skate Culture

Skaters are known for their love of workwear, so it should come as no surprise. Soon after, businesses like Dickies and Wrangler recognized their enormous potential and chose to make them available to the general public. As a result, the clothing must be durable and functional, similar to what employees wear on railroads and building sites.

Skaters like the advantages of overalls, but they prefer them for their appearance. Overalls, after all, may readily fit into any situation with just a few adjustments!


Hip Hop Culture

Workwear influenced skaters’ style, but not as much as hip-hop fashion. Given that hip-hop depicts the brutal reality of life on the streets, it’s no wonder that tough, long-lasting gear has grown so fashionable in the culture.

Can you imagine hip-hop style without Timberland boots, for example? These sneakers have swept the rap and hip-hop worlds, with Notorious BIG and Jay Z mentioning them in their tracks.

The Carhartt jacket is another prominent workwear-inspired clothing in the hip-hop world. Like regular worker coats, these jackets are roomy, comfy, and warm, with lots of pockets.


Moving Forward

What these communities were constantly looking for was authenticity. They desired one-of-a-kind garments that stood out from the crowd yet were not prohibitively pricey. Workwear apparel did precisely that, as well as providing a natural bond to something real and concrete, which is sorely lacking today.


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Written by Lola McQuenzie

Lola is one of our busiest writer. She has worked for Catwalk Yourself since 2007. Lola started working with us after she graduating from Central St Martins

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