I doubt when the coalminers were breaking their backs miles under ground they cared too much for what they were wearing; or the fisherman out in the darkest depths of the ocean trying to land a haul stopped to think if the turn-up on the hem on their leg was at the correct height. I also suspect the men who laid railroads in Australia, India, America and beyond ever thought they looked good in what they were wearing, in fact I imagine come the days end, they couldn’t wait to get out of those stiff jeans, heavy jackets and rigid boots.
If those hardy souls were alive today, I have little doubt they would have laughed at the sight of modern men wandering some of the coolest areas of the hippest cities clad head to toe in waxed sailors coats, raw denim jeans and jackets, plaid and chambray shirts and oxblood coloured boots. And yet here we are in the midst of a technological revolution, with workwear possibly the most prominent trend amongst men today.
Workwear has not so much become a fashion movement but more a way of life; there are hundreds of blogs dedicated to workwear and the great life outdoors, coffee shops and bars are now kitted out like some turn of the 19th Century log cabin, all stripped back wood, rustic furniture and lo-fi aesthetic; barber shops and tattoo parlours are run by big bearded men, covered in tattoos and the aforementioned workwear attire while clothing boutiques and those with the finger on the fashion pulse have been quick to stock their shelves and websites with brands such as Tellason, Edwin and Mister Freedom, all of whom are synonymous with the workwear movement.
It seems somewhat ironic that clothing etched so deeply into the fabric of the 1800/1900’s has now become a statement of modern cool yet scratch beneath the surface and you will soon discover the true values of workwear as a modern trend.
In an age where we can have what we want at the touch of a button, where technology has taken a hold of our social lives both at home and in the workplace and fast-fashion is now a major outlet for the mass market, workwear and those who wear it are searching for something a little deeper, something with a little more meaning attached to its label.
Workwear is about details, it is about quality and craftsmanship. It is about the finish on the hem of your jean, it’s about the stitching on your collar or cuff, it’s about clothes that are built to last. Wearers of this worker trend wear it almost like a badge of honour, they have put in the man-hours to make the fabrics become their own, they live and breath the clothes with a burning passion.
Fashion of course will always have its place – I for one lean more towards modern trends than I do workwear – but even if raw denim is not your thing or you’re not inclined to spending six months ‘breaking in’ a pair of boots, this really is an area of clothing you should appreciate not only for its links to history but the time, effort, care and love that goes into the manufacturing even in the 21st Century.
From denim jackets to fisherman’s Macs, military peacoats to artists blazers, this is the stand out piece when it comes to showing off your workwear credentials. Generally shorter in the body – other than the fisherman’s Macs – for ease of movement when working, this is a rare occasion where style and substance actually go hand-in-hand.
The chambray shirt or heavy duty plaid shirt are the go-to shirts when it comes to workwear and in their more straightforward guise as denim and check shirts, they have been doing the rounds for a few years now. This is an easy way to score points in the workwear field but where it with skinny jeans and a baseball cap worn back-to-front and the traditionalists will not be happy.
Jeans are where the workwear aesthetic begins to go beyond the surface of mere fashion statement. Denim aficiaondas can and will talk to you all day every day about raw denim, the ounce of denim, the wash and wear of particular makes and cuts. Raw denim has become the go to denim in recent years and there is a world of denim in which I could write a thesis on. Thankfully I am not going to do that.
Whether it’s the hardcore Redwing boots or more formal yet just as sturdy Grenson brogues, these shoes are going to last you an age. With thick rubber soles and sturdy leathers, it may take you a while to get used to wearing such footwear but the initial pain will be well worth it in the long run.
Workwear possess a wholehearted and sincere approach to fashion, it isn’t trying to be anything other than true to its roots. Yes a different breed might be wearing it and the reasons may be based more upon personal style rather than practical reasoning but other than that, the clothes themselves retain their classic style.
The world of workwear isn’t one for the feint hearted, it needs to be worn properly and at all times, you cannot be seen adorned in workwear attire one day only to spend the next day in your skinny jeans and new Nike trainers. Workwear, just as it was way back when, is a way of life.