When Hamilton Carhartt first hung out his shingle in Detroit back in 1889, America was still a relatively young country. The first transcontinental rail link had not long been completed. Vast new oil fields were being tapped, and the US would soon become the largest steel producer in the world. The age of the automobile was beginning. Cities were growing, generating a boom in urban construction. There was a lot of work to be done. Darned hard work.
Hamilton Carhartt (or just ‘Ham’ to his friends) could see all this. And with just two sewing machines in a small loft, and with the motto “Honest value for an honest dollar”, he began producing the right kind of clothes for the job. Clothes like the iconic Carhartt Chore Coat, which was tough enough to handle any task. The first one went on sale exactly a hundred years ago, and the rest – as they say – is history.
So we take it as a great compliment that Carhartt has brought back that legendary American classic in pretty much its original form . . . as a tribute to our own long presence in the business as we celebrate our 50th Anniversary and in tribute to our long-standing partnership.
With its iconic silhouette and stylish corduroy collar, it’s the dead spit of the genuine collector’s item. But life has moved on a century. So this remix of the pioneering past is constructed with an outer shell in 1000D MultiCam® Black CORDURA® Classic fabric.
Giving it the kind of durability that Ham Carhartt would’ve given his eye teeth for back in those early days.
Okay, so maybe we weren’t around at the turn of the century. But when we did come along, it was the start of a relationship built around durability that’s going strong to this day.
In fact, when Carhartt introduced CORDURA® fabrics into their commercial line in the fall of 1998, it was a defining moment. Mike Majsak, former Director of Marketing, explains why:
“When we explored expanding our product line, we chose CORDURA® as the best material out there. It’s extremely durable and holds up very well against abrasion and tearing. Its tight weave also pairs nicely with our water‐resistant coating to repel water and resist wind. We've really met and exceeded the expectations of our customers with this product addition."
The product line he’s referring to is Carhartt Extremes. That was quite a while back, but the Carhartt Extremes line is still in production now – and includes coveralls, bib overalls and outerwear. Carhartt Brand Archivist and Historian, Dave J. Moore, echoes Mike’s views from a historical perspective. He believes that the introduction of the Extremes line with CORDURA® fabric was a huge moment of innovation and evolution for Carhartt:
“It was the logical next step to upping the game on our Arctic Wear. CORDURA® fabric really took the Extremes line to the next level."
Deb Ferraro, Vice President of Product Development at Carhartt, totally agrees that we are tied by strong bonds forged by a heritage of collaboration:
“CORDURA® fabrics have long played an important role in the makeup of Carhartt's most durable products. Both brands are actively building upon a relationship that spans nearly two decades, and this collaboration is a testament to two rugged brands, which together create enduring products for hardworking people.”
Well, you’ll find plenty of examples of that in the Carhartt range. However, it might be as hard to spot the new Chore coat as it is the rare original. Being released as a very strictly limited edition. Only a hundred coats will be made – and we’ll be presenting them as gifts to some of our special friends. But you can catch sight of it in the new Carhartt video that’s part of our Meet the Maker series.
In this behind-the-scenes tour of the company’s Michigan headquarters, Deb Ferraro describes CORDURA® as a “great partner to help us innovate the workwear of the future.” And Dave J. Moore gives a fascinating glimpse into the archives, showing some Carhartt Extremes vintage ads . . . and a pair of carefully handled overalls that he reckons could date back to 1889. But coming right up to the here and now, and bringing this Heritage Meets Innovation story full circle, CORDURA® + Carhartt are collaborating using cutting-edge built to last fabric technologies to create the next generation of long-lasting solutions for those who Live Durable™.