Dearborn, Michigan, USA
Mark Valade (1998-present)
$1 billion (Carharrt)
Founded in Michigan in the late 19th century, Carhartt focused on making practical clothing for manual laborers and workers – particularly on the need for industrious workers to have durable and strong clothing.
Designing a wide range of outerwear such as jackets, coats and boots, Carhartt also specializes in footwear and accessories such as aprons, bags and hats. Although downsizing during the Great Depression, Carhartt expanded again after World War II to Canada, the United Kingdom and beyond – evolving its trademark to be the extended durability of its clothing, material resistant to water, flame and abrasions, and heavy-duty threads.
Carhartt products can most commonly be seen today on industrious sites such as construction and farms.
WIP stands for work in progress, and Carhartt WIP offers a refined and reimagined interpretation of its classic American heritage. WIP was initially launched and distributed in the 1990s with selected versions of original garments tailored specifically for a European market, offering a tailored refining of classics such as slim-fit trousers, overalls and hoodies.
Carhartt WIP’s principle function is thus to allow for a modernized aesthetic that establishes a more expansive and progressive outlook on contemporary men’s fashion while emphasizing its distinct, American heritage.
Carhartt makes sure to clearly define the difference between its water-resistant and waterproof articles. The water-resistant articles of clothing hold really well against water, beading up moisture before it rolls off the material of the article of clothing – particularly articles of clothing such as the Rain Defender, that retain a 70% strength after being washed over 20 times.
Nonetheless, water-resistant clothing by Carhartt is not designed to be fully submergible. On the other hand, waterproof articles by Carhartt are totally waterproof – allowing for sweat to escape through a breathable membrane while keeping you fully protected against water.
There are a number of different materials used by Carhartt for their articles of clothing, constructed from very durable outer fabrics. This includes cotton canvas (lightweight 9-ounce, 100% cotton canvas), cotton duck (heavy-weight, 12-ounce, 100% cotton duck) and 8-ounce, 100% cotton white drill.
Due to their expert construction and the material used, Carhartt jackets are said to have lifelong durability, such as the J133 Carhartt Men’s Extremes Active Jac with Artic-Quilt lining – that has a warm insulation lining, is water-repellent, blocks wind, has ribbed cuffs and an attached hood.
For duck, bib and canvas overalls, the recommendation is to not use bleach when washing them, warm water for the first two and cold water for the last and tumble dry on medium heat for all.
In order to break them in, you should wash your overalls a few times along the recommended guidelines but do not use any bleach or fabric softener that could have the potential to damage the material integrity of the article of clothing.
Under the motto “honest value for an honest dollar,” the Carhartt bib overalls were created and they quickly involved into the standard for quality workwear.
Carhartt expands to include mills in the southern USA and on the west coast, in addition to Ontario, Toronto, Vancouver (CA) and Liverpool (UK).
The Great Depression brought with it widescale financial consequences that drastically affected Carhartt too, meaning that the company reduced its productions but still remained open and fought for workers’ rights.
Hamilton passes away, and Wylie Carhartt becomes president of the company – creating the ‘Back to the Land’ programme that includes the opening of sewing and cutting facilities operating in Kentucky and Tennessee to this day.
The introduction of the heavy duty hooded jacket dubbed the ‘Active Jac’ that remains the top-selling Carhartt jacket up to today.
Interest and expansion across Europe leads to creation of Carhartt’s Work in Progress – particularly targeting consumers across Europe and Asia with refined and ‘modern’ details that reinterpret original designs.
Mark Valade – great-grandson of founder Hamilton – becomes the president and ushers in a new era with the emergence of the internet and new technology. He creates a full women’s line of products and introduces flame resistant garments, alongside other technological advancements such as Quick Duck, Storm Defender, Rain Defender and Carhartt Force.
Linda Hubbard becomes the first non-family member to take the role of president for the company, with Mark Valade as CEO and his mother Gretchen Valade as the chairwoman emeritus.