Wednesday, October 21, 2009

American Workwear: A Buyer's Perspective

I was recently lucky enough to correspond with Annette Hommen, the head of online media relations, of, one of the UK's leading online fashion retailers.  I featured a few of their products a while back and she contacted me with the opportunity to get some insight into the operations of their Menswear site, which launched in January 2009.  My-Wardrobe's Menswear A/W 09/10 collection is very American workwear heavy and I was curious as to the motiavations behind both their buying and branding strategy.  Annette provided me with some great quotes from the Menswear site's buyer, Lee Douros, which touch on the motivation, themes and trends behind this season's buys...

"One of the strongest trends for the current season was a reworking of 20th Century American workwear garments. A reaction to the financial climate, the mood has been reflected in fashion, where garments are made to look work-hardened and reinforced and speak of long days of manual labour."

"Overstitching, multi pockets, ecru, hickory stripes and twill, raw or greige cottons are key. Jackets feature patch pockets and overstitch detailing for extra durability. Trousers are straight-legged and have carpenters’ pocket detailing on the side. Long sleeve henley tees are teamed with wool tweed waistcoats. Lightly padded check or plaid flannel overshirts feature in a boxy fit. Selvedge edged denims in a straight fit are rolled at the cuff and teamed with Red Wing or brogued boots."

Here are some of Lee's personal picks and commentary...

"A key piece that covers this season’s Americana Workwear trend is by YMC. The hickory striped twill blazer features multi patch pockets and triple stitching, making it a hardwearing piece that will work well into next season."

"There has been a shift away from skinny leg jeans for the past season, and straighter-leg jeans have been more prevalent. This fits in with the Workwear trend too. A great offering is by Nudie this season, with their Average Joe Rich Black Embo Wash jeans. The jeans have been given a subtle wash to show up the denim quality, and the pockets feature the traditional logo stitch in a black thread as opposed to the normal orange.."

"A great shirt from American brand Penfield. The flannel check shoulder panel fits in well to this season’s Workwear trend. And at £55, it’s a great piece to easily update work wardrobe."

"The Mountain Providence Parka is a great workwear-inspired piece by English brand Garbstore. The attention to detail with this brand is unsurpassed, with vintage talon zips and dead-stock trims often used, and the packaging is too good to throw out!"

As someone who is very interested in clothes and the industry at large, this look into the mind of a buyer is extremely intriguing.  While Sartorially Inclined by no means endorses trends it is still fascinating to see how and why the clothes we so casually browse through, be them online or otherwise, end up on the "shelves" and "racks".  Not to mention, with Americana/heritage pieces dominating menswear this inside look is all the more signifigant.  I'd like to give a special thanks to Anette, Lee and for their courtesy and help in putting this piece together. 



  1. This type of work wear is a combination of traditional Japanese clothing and practical European designs. Then in 2005, the designer, Bernhard Willhelm, took from the outfits worn by Japanese construction workers (called Tobis) to create his spring fashion clothing line. From then on, Tobi fashion clothing stores started springing up all over Tokyo, to the point that even children's clothes were made in the Tobi style. This has also had repercussion in the construction business. Now workers can walk into construction clothing shops and be faced with colourful hardhats and overalls, making the work place also a place of fashion and fun.

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  2. The Mountain Providence Parka looks awesome, I have a similar one, but mine is black on the outside and a greenish color in the inside.

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  5. try searching some for some alternative industrial workwear at uniformpoint.