ORIGINS OF THE WORKWEAR


Today, the trend is about straight lines, loose fit, and rugged fabrics, all inspired by traditional working-class’ clothing. For centuries, from shipyards to welding factories, builders of this world wore clothes that protect them from the specific risks inherent to their profession. Back then, each trade had its specific clothes. From hat to shoes, a workman’s clothing was both a way to protect him and a hint of his social status. For many, clothing was a symbol under which people could identify themselves, a way to create a sense of belonging to a specific group. As a matter of fact, the term ‘’blue‑collar’’ refers to the blue overalls of the manual laborers, while ‘’white‑collar’’ comes from the white dress shirt worn by office workers.

These years were marked by the rural migration. Working clothes changed for craftsmen and farmers moving to factory jobs. They were promised a more stable employment but also exposed themselves to greater risks of injury, especially in mines and chain production factories. Such environments required heavy cotton fabrics that could endure repetitive washing. Those jobs were very dirty, and the maintenance of the workers’ clothes was on their own time and money.  

In both the city and in the country, denim fabrics’ popularity was growing fast, offering durability, protection and comfort for repetitive movements. As years went by, some pieces of workwear started to make appearances outside of the working hours. The perfect example is the iconic jeans, initially worn by farmers and gold seekers from the goldrush era in the US. Levi Strauss (Levi’s) is the man behind the now famous jeans, now worn by millions of men and women!

Today, many great designers are inspired by the clean and functional design found on workwear. On that matter, Japanese designers developed quite an expertise at revisiting vintage pieces and add a modern twist.

 

ON SUSTAINABLE MODE

‘’Today’s workwear is, in fact, a response to these work conditions: the worker’s clothes were made to be durable and endure harsh weather, without compromising on comfort. We all agree that these are miles away from what can be seen on today’s fashion-week catwalks. ‘’
Translated from ‘’Le workwear à travers les âges et les continents’’ (Workwear throughout the ages and continents), BW-YW, 2015

Comfortable, durable and tough are keywords from our heritage that are now guidelines for our collections. Although our work conditions are not as harsh as the ones faced by our ancestors, the weather is still unstable (if not more), our activities are more diverse than ever, we travel across the oceans, and we are driving from the city to the mountain and back on countless occasions. We now need to put responsible social behaviors above our needs for versatile clothes. In that matter, workwear represents a durable solution, which is the diametrical opposite of the fast‑fashion. We must make up for yesterday’s mistakes, and, ironically, borrow ideas from the Industrial Revolution era workwear, instead of perpetuating them.


For Plenty, and other comparable companies, short-lived trends are to be avoided. Creating and producing in a hurry increase the risks of mistakes and manufacturing defects and this is hard to absorb for a small company! After 10 years in the clothing industry, we try to make better choices:  select the styles that will resist the test of time and meet the expectations of our clientele, growing increasingly diverse in its activities and interests. Today, it’s not unusual to meet someone who rides a snowboard, a skateboard, a surf and a mountain bike, practices carving wood and studies culinary arts! Workwear is the perfect fit for a lifestyle of freedom and action. It’s a sure shot that fits a lot of people and styles. For instance, our Bill Work Pant: with a comfortable hoodie, it’s perfect to renovate your cabin in the wood, and with a trendy jacket, you fit right in on your night out in town. More and more women leave their skinny pants for pants like the Tara Patchwork Denim Pants. Combine it with a girly blouse, turnups, and you are good to go, stylish and comfortable.


Workwear is also the love for vintage and genuine things. Hence the timeless inspiration from the great pioneers, from the battlefields to the shipyards. Workwear is the expression of the labouring class and there are as many styles as there are trades, which allows for a lot of freedom and possibilities.


Warning: buying a pre-worn garment is of no interest. Let your story be told by the clothes that followed you through your adventures, that’s the idea behind our ‘’Let your garment talk’’ slogan. Earn the wear and customize your garment by living life your own way!

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