“She’s got charm, a firearm to match mine/Goin to the movies packin his and her nines/Wearin’ Carhartt and leather, motherfuck the weather”
Writing this from a sickbed because I’m a drama queen, keeping an eye on a media schizophrenically disposed towards both a novelty sized iPod Touch and human suffering on an epic scale, I wasn’t in the mood for blogging. but do you know what? That’s loser talk. Shit, Eddie Futch would probably slap me if he heard me whining because of the man flu. As discussed and noted by all who’ve left the country lately for any mass gathering of thin people in glasses, chinos and Woolrich standing around taking in the whiff of sixty pound scented candles, solemnly talking Horween factory output, over familiarity is lurking into the frame when it comes to the heritage brands that were once a glorious mystery to you. From a personal point of view, one brand represents more than passing trends – Carhartt.
From getting real close to the Panasonic with a skittering pause image of MTV Raps acts to decipher the fat-arsed ‘C’ to the first Carhartt and workwear boom in the UK, with American Classics and Camden market spots shifting the kind of cord collared canvas and denim attire one could fell a burglar with, it’s never really lost that magic for me. Duck canvas is a thing of beauty. I don’t need the fancy stuff – i’m not into wearing it in, the current selvedge pants from Carhartt Europe are ace, but it’s not something to fuss over too much. When one blanket lined item perishes, it’s time to restock during a US excursion. I can trust the union-made stuff; not from some tired preoccupation that those in the factory are Whistling Dixie and dancing around, but because I’ve never been let down by the brand’s core creations. For the money, the Mexican-made sweats are fresh too, though from experience they lose some serious length after a wash. Brown duck is a non-nonsense design classic, and that square patch confers legend status.
James and the crew at Carhartt Europe’s UK office are even more preoccupied with the line, so my onetime wariness of the localised Carhartt’s intentions proved utterly unwarranted. Seeing as Carhartt have been doing this for as long as they do, I’m looking forward to the seeing the fruition of the duck pieces I spotted in the books late last year. US-made coats in fits that aren’t best suited to Terror from ‘The Wanderers’? Very necessary. I was just doing some speedy research on Carhartt’s early days, and with the passing of onetime Flavor Unit linchpin Apache last week, the brand’s been on my mind.
Apache’s solo album hadn’t held up as well as I hoped on a tribute listen (‘Smooth Yet Hard’ on the Flavor Unit compilation does what the title suggests though, his posse cut contributions were strong, and ‘Do Fa Self’ brings back happy memories) – but despite wearing his duck brown vest to the point where he had a touch of the General Zod cosmic villainy going on, he was a strong ambassador for the brand, and one of the first rappers I ever heard namecheck Carhartt. RIP. In tribute, here’s a hastily compiled collection of pre-1920 Carhartt newspaper ads, stories and job-related talk. The earliest is from 1897, and the latest is the strike saga of August 1919 that appeared to blow up and conclude over the space of just four days.