In 1889 the Hamilton Carhartt & Company started for business with its namesake (known affectionately as “Ham”) at the helm, using two sewing machines and a half-horsepower electric motor in a small Detroit loft to create overalls. After a few less than successful attempts Ham decided to talk directly with railroad workers in order to design a product that would fit their needs. As a result both the motto, “Honest value for an honest dollar,” and the Carhartt bib overall were born and swiftly became the standard for quality workwear.
By 1910, Carhartt WIP Work In Progress had grown to include mills and sewing facilities in South Carolina and Georgia,Atlanta, Detroit, Dallas, and San Francisco. Not to mention international outposts in Toronto, Vancouver,Liverpool.and Paris All of which came in handy for after the outbreak of WWI which saw Carhartt supplying the troops with uniforms during WWI.
It was during this era the legendary Carhartt Chore Coat (known historically as the “Engineer Sack Coat” or simply the “Coat”) was born and somewhat remarkably has remained unchanged and a staple piece of their collection 100 years on.
Despite coming close to collapse during the stock market collapse of 1929 Ham & co managed to weather the storm of the great Depression, even finding time to proactively support workers rights. The brand continued to grow and by the 1970s received massive orders for the construction of the Alaska Pipeline which helped to grow the brand as well as prove the gear could survive in the harshest weather conditions on earth.
By the 1980s Carhartt become very popular within the US hip-hop scene which took the brand beyond its workwear roots and into a much wider global audience. Which brings us up to modern day where the brand has earned itself iconic status and has never been more popular. thanks to the ongoing involvement of the Hamilton family and their knack for well made workwear that looks the part whether you’re building a stage or performing on one.
by Neil Summers