130 Years of Carhartt: How Hip Hop, Unions, and the American Dream Made Carhartt Clothing a Staple

Photo Courtesy: [Rolling Stone/Youtube, Edward Berthelot/Getty Images, Yulia Images/Getty Images, and Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons]

In 2015, a sitting U.S. president appeared on the cover of one of the most popular magazines in the world. This alone is not earth-shattering, but the photograph says more than a thousand words, namely because of the Carhartt jacket worn by then-President Barack Obama.

Carhartt clothing has been an American staple for over 130 years. As a brand and as a company, Carhartt has been able to forge a connection with its customers for many generations. Like Nike, king of the shoe game, Carhartt clothing and workwear can be found in dressers and closets no matter a person’s age, gender, or race.

Like most success stories, Carhartt’s consistent and ubiquitous presence was not an accident. There are a few reasons why Carhartt work boots, for instance, are worn by construction workers and runway models alike. For Carhartt, it’s been a century and a half of innovation paired with tradition. For example, the first Carhartt jackets appeared in ads that date back to 1917, and that same chore coat is still made today.

The family-owned business has been a part of American history through thick and thin. It hasn’t been all Paris runways and presidential endorsements for the company, so we’re breaking down Carhartt’s success, starting from the beginning.