The Duluth Trading company was founded in 1989 by two brothers who worked in construction. Noticing that their fellow workers carried tools from one place to the next in a cluttered heap thrown into a drywall bucket, the brothers invented the Bucket Boss, a tool organizer made of canvas that could be wrapped around a bucket for easy carrying. The success of this product encouraged the brothers to branch out into other tool organizing products, and they opened their first company headquarters in 1991 on a barge which rested on the shoreline of Lake Superior. The Duluth Trading Company continued to expand its range of products in 1993, going beyond tool organizing and transport products and venturing into workwear.
Perhaps the best selling Duluth Trading Company workwear garment is the Longtail T, introduced in 2002. The Longbody T is essentially a classic workman's cotton t-shirt with a breast pocket, but with an added extra three inches of shirt length to prevent exposing oneself while crouching down to work. The same year that the Duluth Trading Company began selling the Longbody T, they also introduced their F.O.M. (Freedom of Movement) clothing line, designed to be flexible enough to allow for bending and stretching while working without ripping seams. Also introduced in 2002 was the Presentation Jacket, a semi-casual jacket designed to be lightweight, stain-resistant and loaded with storage pockets, yet dressy enough to meet with clients or higher-ups.
The following year, in 2003, the Duluth Trading Company launched its line of Fire hose workwear, made of the same canvas material used in fire hoses and known for its extreme durability and stain-resistance. Two years later, the company introduced its line of DTPro polo shirts, cargo shorts and pants, all loaded with multiple pockets for convenient small tool storage and transportation. This was also the year that the company began selling women's work clothing and began sending out its first women's wear catalog. The Duluth Trading Company also sells a line of breathable and antimicrobial Sweat Survival gear, designed to wick sweat away from the body while doing strenuous work in hot weather.
Each workwear product designed and sold by the Duluth Trading Company is first tested by a group of workers the company refers to as the "Trades Panel." These eight men are employed as general contractors, landscape contractors, electricians, farriers, carpenters and pump installers. The Trades Panel has been a feature of product testing and development since 1990, when the founding brothers had various manual laborers test their first tool organizing products for efficiency and durability.
The Duluth Trading Company headquarters is located in Belleville, Wisconsin, where there is a 140,000 sq. ft. distribution center and a company call center. There is only one dedicated Duluth Trading Company retail outlet, located in the small town of Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin. This outlet is home not only to the complete lines of men's and women's workwear offered by the company, but also houses the Wally Keller Tool Museum, which showcases hundreds of antique tools from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.