How Dickies Went From Blue-Collar Bastion to High-Style Staple

There aren’t many clothing manufacturers that have contributed as much to their home nation as the American workwear stalwart Dickies, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Founded in Texas by cousins EE “Colonel” Dickie and CN Williamson, the brand was born from humble roots, with the sole “purpose of celebrating and enabling the makers of the world to be better at what they care so deeply about,” says Sarah Crockett, Dickies’ global CMO.

Fast-forward 100 years and Dickies’ mission statement has remained true. Along the way, the brand has consistently innovated and diversified its collection. In the process, it has transcended its workwear roots to become a cult favorite of menswear enthusiasts from Junya Watanabe to A$AP Rocky.

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A look from Dickies’ 100th anniversary collection and Junya Watanabe’s take on utility for spring 2022. - Credit: Dickies, Junya Watanabe

A look from Dickies’ 100th anniversary collection and Junya Watanabe’s take on utility for spring 2022. – Credit: Dickies, Junya Watanabe

Dickies, Junya Watanabe

Up until World War II, Dickies primarily serviced blue-collar laborers with garments that could withstand the toils of tough work. The first product that the cousins engineered was the bib overall, constructed from hard-wearing denim and replete with strengthened pockets to safely store away vital tools of the trade. Like many garment manufacturers, World War II forced Dickies hand in supporting the war effort, and the brand was tapped by the American government to make 9 million heavy-duty twill uniforms for the US Armed Forces.

Its most iconic creation of this era, though, is undoubtedly what’s colloquially known as the Eisenhower jacket, named after general (and soon to be president) Dwight D. Eisenhower. Still in production today (albeit a much more contemporary, streamlined version), it’s a cropped utility jacket featuring the

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Caterpillar’s WWR Line Targets Streetwear Market

Caterpillar, the world’s largest construction equipment-maker, is pushing further into work-inspired streetwear.

The company has annual sales of $53 billion and a history that dates to 1904. And while it may be best known for its backhoes and bulldozers, it also has a large international apparel and footwear business that spans a variety of categories, from workwear to streetwear.

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Since 2006, that apparel business has been handled by Bozeman, Mont.-based Summit Resource International, which holds the global license for Caterpillar men’s and women’s apparel and accessories and retail operations. Summit was founded in 1991 as a private label manufacturer and is operated today by Sean Gallinger, president, whose prior business background included Triad Sportswear. Centric is the distributor of the brand and works with Summit on the creation of the line.

Cat Workwear, which sells durable work pants, insulated vests and parkas, hoodies, T-shirts and caps, is a natural brand extension. But in 2019, right before the pandemic, the company expanded into more fashion apparel under the WWR moniker — Workwear Redefined. Marketed as a mix of “original American workwear” and the “most updated fashion trends,” WWR launched in Europe and made its debut in the U.S. at the end of last year.

It is sold at Saks Fifth Avenue as well as on its own e-commerce site and will be added at Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters and specialty stores for spring. The goal, Gallinger said, is to expand its specialty distribution and it will be shown at the upcoming Project show in Las Vegas later this month.

Cat’s move into the fashion arena was not surprising. The handwriting was on the wall as early as 2019 when the brand partnered with John Elliott followed by last year’s collaboration with buzzy designer Heron Preston to create

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