Carhartt, Inc. is founded by Hamilton Carhartt. The first factory is in Dearborn, Michigan where Carhartt create high quality work clothing for manual laborers.
Carhartt had grown from two sewing machines to mills in both South Carolina as well as Georgia. They also created sewing facilities in Atlanta, Detroit, Dallas and San Francisco. Expansion leads the company overseas with factories in Ontario, Toronto, Vancouver and Liverpool followed shortly by a Paris facility and a New York office & warehouse.
During the first world war, Carhartt offers their facilities to create uniforms for the United States military.
One of the most famous and popular products from Carhartt is first made, known as simply the “Coat”or “Engineer Sack Coat”. The design of the coat has remained very similar to the present day.
During the stock market collapse which affects many business across the country, Carhartt considers closing their doors for good. Through all the challenges, Hamilton and hissons push forward through the Great Depression and shows its solidarity for workers rights.
Following the death of Hamilton Carhartt, his son, Wylie, becomes official president of the company. Wylie is a key figure in the “Back to the Land” program which results in openings in rural Kentucky. To this day, four Kentucky sewing and cutting facilities exist and the original factory which was completed in 1932 stands as an operations center for their supply chain.
At the beginning of the second world war Carhartt produces coveralls for soldiers and army personnel as well as jungle suits for Marines in the Pacific, and workwear for women on the home front.
Wylie’s daughter, Gretchen Carhartt, marries Robert Valade who then assumed leadership of the company.
Robert Valade wastes no time in expanding the company, changing the brand forever. Forming a nucleus that changes the face of Carhartt completely, the brand obtains a modern production facility and starts producing private-label goods for the likes of Sears, J.C. Penney and Montgomery Ward.
Carhartt releases the Active jac, which remains the brand’s top selling jacket today. The heavy duty hooded jacket, grown and grown in popularity in the years since its initial release.
During the 1970s, Carhartt supplied huge orders for the construction of the Alaska Pipeline. By showing its products were able to survive and thrive in the worst conditions, it becomes the go to supplier for many workers.
The rise of Carhartt’s popularity outside the blue-collar trades grows significantly in the 70s and 80s with a rise in sales and production. A crossover into mainstream fashion sees popular hip-hop artists wearing the brand, helping it to reach new groups of customers.
Expansion into Europe leads to Carhartt entering a licensing agreement with Work In Progress, owned by German entrepreneur Edwin Faeh to import and distribute the US brand’s products in Europe. Favoured by skateboarders and musicians, amongst others, the clothing items expand beyond their traditional workwear roots into the emerging streetwear scene.
Carhartt WIP starts to manufacture its own product range in Europe, adapting classic Carhartt pieces to meet the demands of the urban environment. The core values of quality, durability and comfort are maintained when re-working the range, while fits are updated to appeal to European streetwear consumers.
Carhartt forms an in-house record label called Combination Records, after having already been involved in the music scene for a number of years. The label eventually morphs into Carhartt Music, a division of the company dedicated to supporting new and emerging artists that appeal to subcultures relating to streetwear.
The Carhartt 2006 capsule collection with BAPE (A Bathing Ape) releases featuring hoodies, jackets, parkas, caps and even vests. Carhartt WIP is still relatively new at this stage and the collaboration with BAPE elevates the company with fashion icon Takashi Murakami being seen in various pieces.
The first standalone Carhartt concept retail store opens in Portland, Oregon.
Carhartt opens a new store in Seoul, Korea with a space for music, food and Carhartt clothing.
The A.P.C. x Carhartt WIP collab launches. Carhartt WIP Radio also debuts on iTunes, bringing new and emerging artists to listers, some of which are supported by Carhartt WIP as part of its long-running commitment to helping new musicians.
Carhartt releases a unique silhouette jacket in collaboration with the very popular label mastermind JAPAN.
Carhartt WIP teams up with Neighborhood to drop the Panther Print collection and also collaborates with Vans on special editions of the footwear brand’s Era model. A slightly off the wall collaboration with Italian brand Bialetti sees a special Carhartt WIP version of the iconic Moka Express coffee maker release. A new flagship store also opens in Beijing as Carhartt WIP’s popularity increases in China.
Carhartt WIP launches a collection in collaboration with media brand Highsnobiety, and also teams up with streetwear giants Stussy to drop a collection in celebration of Carhartt WIP’s 25th anniversary. A separate “25 years In Progress” collection also releases.
Amsterdam’s Patta label releases a collaboration between themselves and Carhartt WIP. Releasing in the Fall/Winter this collection appeals to streetwear fanatics everywhere. The brand’s pro-skateboard team also visit Seoul, South Korea to highlight the city’s futuristic architecture and Carhartt WIP opens a new store in London’s Soho.
Collaborating with a number of brands, Carhartt WIP releases capsule collections created in partnership with the likes of Mo’design, Slam Jam, mastermind Japan, Junya Watanbe, Gaika and Converse. The brand also opens a new flagship store in New York’s SoHo.
Carhartt WIP collaborates with Nike to release the Carhartt WIP x Nike collection, comprising of Air Force 1, Air Max 95 and Vandal High models using signature Carhartt materials and detailing. This year also sees Carhartt collaborating with Trojan Records, dropping a capsule collection to celebrate the music label’s 50th anniversary.
A collaboration between Converse and Carhartt WIP sees the launch of the special edition Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star 70 Gore Tex pack which includes the classic sneaker produced in waterproof fabric. Later the brands collaborate on special edition Chuck 70s which feature Carhartt WIP branding on the tongue and military influenced colourways.
From creation in 1889, Hamilton and the following three generations have established in Carhartt a brand that has fought of dark times and came out winner, time and time again. A classic piece of America, Carhartt has been outfitting US workers for decades.
Carhartt WIP takes the authentic workwear roots of its parent label and adds a distinctive contemporary urban flavour. Often considered one of the original streetwear brands, Carhartt WIP not only releases fresh takes on classic utility inspired pieces every season, but has ingrained itself into a range of subcultures ranging from rap to skateboarding, providing support to many talented individuals along the way.
Carhartt WIP continues to innovate, and regularly collaborates with other brands to release special capsule collections. The Carhartt WIP label goes from strength to strength and it's not hard to see why it has developed such a strong following of loyal fans, with its latest releases regularly sell out.