When I was child, my Papa told me “it’s not hard work unless you’re breaking a sweat”, which is something that has stuck with me throughout my life. I wish I could let him know that I use those words as a constant measuring stick, to question if what I’m doing is real work. You’ve read a few sentences so far and at a glance (see paragraphs below) clearly I’m working, promise. The contradiction though, is I’m not at all sweating, or at least don’t want to admit moving my fingers real fast could result in that. My grandfather came from a time where contracts didn’t always exist. A handshake would suffice because word was bond, just like the worlds of the slow rolling western films we used to watch together. He worked for Conrail, one of America’s biggest freighter lines. He was almost always in uniform and this is how I was introduced to Dickies. Billy Joe Hudson wore Dickies’ legendary 874’s in the navy to work every day and came home and relaxed in the khaki. These were his staples, Dickies were part of his Grandpa DNA, I saw him in jeans once and it was weird. The brand would forever be synonymous to the railroad and the men who built it.
Now I read the word workwear and question it —what did people wear before workwear? I picture a man demanding someone to fetch him his top hat, the carriage’s leaf springs need tuning after all. You can’t blame him, workwear didn’t exist. It wouldn’t be until 1922, when the idea to clothe all farmers in Texas in a signature overall came to two friends. C.N. Williamson and E.E. “Colonel” Dickie would open up shop in Fort Worth and start exploring fabrics that were durable and functional, but most of all—comfortable when things got sweaty.
The garments are not just considered durable, some vowed they were practically indestructible. I love that statement, practically indestructible. It makes me think of scientists in a lab at Dickies, with an arsenal of weapons, testing out flamethrowers and throwing knives at a pair of hanging legendary 874’s. Working in fashion, I’ve learned it doesn’t work that way but it is a great Youtube search. Sans fire and knives, in 1967 the founders of Dickies tested out new fabric combinations, resulting in the brand’s secret sauce—a perfect blend of 65 percent poly and 35 percent cotton, not bulletproof but they do survive a tornado. Seriously. When we met with a longtime employee of the brand she told us a story (one that would only happen in Texas) about a pair of Dickies Flat Front Pants hanging in the brand’s archives that were found in a field outside Granbury after a tornado. The pants were literally sucked right out of someone’s house. The best part? She guarantees "you could put ‘em on right now and be good to go." Believe it, after all the family-run business was founded during a time where word meant everything and that sure as hell hasn’t changed.
Dickies workwear has always stood for quality, toughness and pride that embodies the spirit of the American worker. Just because your job might not entail manual labor, don’t get self-consciousness because if there’s anything the ‘70s and ‘80s taught us about Dickies emergence into popular subcultures, they can still be your party pants. What’s that ancient saying? Work hard, play harder. From skateboarders to BMX cyclists to Rancid ... one thing was official, Dickies was cool. It’s this mass appeal while still staying true to its identity—a near impossible feat for any brand—is why we love Dickies and why we’re excited to announce our Spring/Summer ‘17 collaboration with the brand during New York Men’s Fashion Week. While new designers present collections, we felt it was important to pay tribute to one that’s been dressing men for almost 100 years.