Why Designer Workwear is Dumb
To a certain extent, all of fashion is built on a base of appropriation. High fashion, especially, is given the freedom to take inspiration from a myriad of sources, stealing without context or understanding. In recent months, the brands of the working-class America—Carhartt, Dickies, Hanes, Champion, and others—have been elevated thanks to the efforts of trendy, out-of-touch streetwear designers. Rich kids are running around in the same heritage brands that people in lower income brackets wear every day, except these newer clothes come cosigned by Vetements or Opening Ceremony. All of a sudden, impossibly wealthy people want to look like they don’t have the means to wear anything other than basic workwear. The people buying this outrageously priced workwear likely don’t even interact much with the people forced to wear the real thing.
As street style consumes itself by appropriating skate culture and rural America, it only looks more and more ridiculous. There’s a reason people wear heritage brands, and it’s not only to look good or as a status symbol. Workwear is meant to be used, worn out, moved around in. It should last long enough to get your money’s worth. It’s not meant to be worn by hypebeasts looking for a few extra likes on Instagram.
It’s not like these collaborations are even that groundbreaking or exciting, but no one is calling the fashion industry on their shit. The awful Vetements x Carhartt collaboration is less flattering than actual Carhartt pieces that cost exponentially less. Virgil Abloh’s Off-White is selling $305 t-shirts that are objectively no better than authentic $2 shirts at Goodwill. Dickies went from being practical to pretentious under the direction of Opening Ceremony. Anyone who’s willing to pay $1,085 for a twill workwear shirt should just give up.
If you have the money to escape blue-collar professions, then at least have the decency to stop appropriating workwear brands that have been mangled by high-fashion labels. Just buy pieces directly from Hanes, Champion or Dickies, and stop feeding into the parasitic business of using lowbrow labels to make the rich even richer.