Archival Clothing - Made in USA

Posts Tagged ‘Carhartt’

Shopping from the USA: Carhartt

October 19th, 2012
When I was 14, the guys at the bike shop where I volunteered insisted that Carhartts were the only pants worth buying at retail price. I biked out to Coastal Farm and Feed in Eugene, dropped $40 on a pair of B01 double-knee pants, and have been a fan ever since. We’ve done a few little posts on the subject, but in general we defer to Mr. Fox, undoubtedly the king of Carhartt in these parts. 



Recently there’s been a little excitement as Carhartt starts to promote the styles still made in the USA. The WSJ had an interesting piece over a year ago, and Michael at ACL recently posted a great article (with, as usual, an entertaining comment thread). 



Carhartt kindly sent over one of their made in USA Active Jacs for me to check out. I love it – super warm and it’s built like a truck. Gotta dig that giant zipper pull. Regular/roomy fit, so you can layer sweaters underneath. $100. Seriously cannot beat that bang for the buck unless you’re buying used. 


Really happy to see the USA-made goods getting pushed, and here’s hoping that more and more of their goods can be brought home as demand increases. I asked a few questions about the USA line, and here are the thoughts of Tony Ambroza, VP of Marketing at Carhartt. I’m most interested in the links between domestic manufacture and the physical design of the artifacts being produced, so I would have loved to hear more about that process – maybe someday I’ll take a field trip to Irvine, KY to see the plant!

1)     What made Carhartt decide to bring the production of these styles back to the USA?
Our Made in the USA line of apparel was created in response to consumer feedback; they told us they wanted to know exactly which products we make and source in the U.S. We were able to shift some product to other manufacturing facilities in order to accommodate production of these popular styles.
2)     What advantages have you found in domestic production?
We never stopped manufacturing in the U.S. since the company’s founding in 1889. In the last 15 years alone, we’ve made more than 57 million units of apparel in our U.S. facilities.  Fortunately the family who founded the business still owns Carhartt outright and understands how the company’s heritage is linked to US manufacturing.  As a consumer focused American work wear manufacturer, serving and protecting hard working people with our products is extremely important to us.  We work to ensure our products are still built to the high standards established by our founder Hamilton Carhartt, while keeping our prices competitive and affordable.  Thanks to our manufacturing approach we are able to maintain US manufacturing without increasing the price for our US styles.
3)     Any drawbacks?
It is difficult to remain competitive in our industry with only domestic production when just 2 percent of clothing bought here is actually manufactured here.  This is why we have chosen a balanced supply chain strategy which includes domestic and outsourced production. It allows us to provide high-quality products at competitive prices. With that said, no brand makes more rugged work wear in the U.S. than Carhartt.
4)      Has it been easy or hard to find the needed skilled labor to produce at scale in the USA?
Fortunately, many of the employees who stitch together our products by hand have been with us for several decades or more.  The work is physically demanding.  It takes a great deal of training and time for employees to learn the skills required to build Carhartt to our exact specifications.  

Archival Salute: Carhartt

August 22nd, 2011


OK, if you want to really learn the Carhartt ropes you should be over at 10engines right now (above image lifted from there). James has an almost worrisomely complete Optic.

Just got a few lovely deadstock lids, see above, from another Carhartt wunderkind, Jason of Wilderness Workshop. Reminded me to put up a couple of my old favorites.
Bequested double-front work pants, new in the 1980s, handed down from one CnT generation to the next. I got ’em for a few years and added quite a few scars and patches. Above: raising frame on an AT privy in 2006 with friend Ira.
One of my favorites. Centennial edition chore coat, blanket-lined. Thrifted a long time ago, in a thrift store far far away.
The fit got baggy in the mid-1990s and then it all went offshore… such a shame. Britches of choice for the lacrosse and hockey frats back in college, for better or worse. Love that sturdy dry duck.

Shopping from Labonville, Inc.

January 19th, 2009


Editor’s Note:
Friend Tom B. also hails from Eugene, and went to college in rural New Hampshire where he started building timber frame buildings. He seems to be more proud of his Forest Service chainsaw certification than his architecture degree. I’ve brought him in as a guest blogger to highlight some stylish, alternative, often budget work wear brands and stockists. Tom’s first entry deals with Labonville, a manufacturer and retailer of “Logging Supplies and Safety Apparel.”

I was introduced to Labonville through the outing club at my college. The college’s forestry team was a major patron of the store; they placed massive orders for wool jackets in the school’s colors.



Labonville provides perfect material for the logger’s wardrobe. Walk into a Filson store and you may feel like you’re in a boutique. Visit Labonville and you enter the world of the working logger. The clothing available is affordable, functional and plain. There’s less of an obsession with traditional materials, although you will find traditional products such as wool cape coats and Malone wool pants. I’d like to put forth the argument that Labonville—and similar retailers — offer excellent basic garments that complement other showpiece brands like Filson. Cruising the L-Ville site, you can find garments so archetypal, so familiar, that they play like a tired cliché that you must acknowledge is true: pancakes are mighty flat, it is better safe than sorry, and Traditional Dickies Work Pants are very close to being the Perfect Pant.


It’s stating the obvious, but the Dickies pant is so cheap, durable, and neutral that it serves as an ideal daily driver. Thousands of delivery drivers, cooks, and painters can’t be wrong. As for the coverall—it’s less suited for daily wear than the Dickies pants, but it’s still a lovely example of cheap and lasting garb.


Carhartt has been done to death, but the fact remains that, like Dickies, the company does make some superb clothing. Their canvas pants, when combined with good boots, a hickory shirt, and a baseball cap, anchor a comfortable and durable get-up that does the trick for more abrasive work.


Labonville also has a house-brand line of clothing, with real winners such as their classic plaid coat, as well as a nylon bomber-type vest and several brilliant logger boots: