Is workwear bigger than it’s ever been? We’ve seen a serious cargos renaissance in recent months. The genderless, unassuming and practical 90s staple has recently undergone a revival, spotted on it-girls everywhere – from Bella Hadid to TikTok fashion influencers. From Maharishi parachute pants to the cargos lining the racks of seemingly every fast fashion store at the moment, the cargos trend has truly taken off in the last year – but there is one space where they never wavered in popularity: workwear.
Traditionally encompassing items such as work boots, cargos, work jackets and utilitarian style pieces, workwear was originally exactly what it sounds like: clothes to work in. Practical, functional and outside of the confines of rapidly-changing trends, workwear has undergone a shift in perception, which sees it infiltrating streetwear spaces and even the realms of high fashion.
One brand that has spearheaded this movement is Carhartt. Starting out as a brand which catered to rail workers, the label has transformed into a cult-favourite streetwear brand, worn by everyone from hypebeasts, to your dad, to Ye. Its signature beige and brown hues, as well as durable fabrics and streetwear-esque silhouettes have become synonymous within city fashion. What once was a subculture has become firmly implanted into the mainstream. They’ve even become the blueprint brand for the stiff collar workwear jackets – now microtrend of their own.
We’ve also seen workwear on the runway, time and time again. Brands like VTMNTS and Balenciaga take the contrast stitching motif from workwear and transform it into high-drama pieces on the catwalk, whilst A-COLD-WALL* and Craig Green often build collections around core workwear tropes. Materials such as leather, denim and nylon also have their roots in workwear: implicating countless other brands such as Levi’s and Prada in the workwear-adjacent sphere.
One person who has been sporting all of these materials on a regular basis is Ye – pairing YEEZY nylon with Balenciaga denim and, more traditionally, Red Wing work boots. Whilst Ye has forged a new, streetwear look from these due to considered styling choices and updated, distinctly streetwear silhouettes, in using individual elements of workwear, he has managed to forge an entirely new uniform. Meta.
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