Growing up in Detroit, I spent two summers during college working at Chrysler’s Trenton factory. I worked the 3:30-to-midnight shift in the chemical plant, where they also assembled brake pads. It was a 40-hour-a-week job, but I probably averaged another 16 to 20 hours in overtime, usually as double shifts.
Some days I would set up the lab for the next day’s shift; other days I built brake pads. It was 90 percent men. Our uniform was heavy-duty protective clothing: canvas jackets, rugged jeans, work boots.We have a long history with workwear in this country. In fact, these clothes originated here in America, on the backs of factory workers and gold miners. If you go back to the 1960s, it was what we wore on weekends. Every generation evolves workwear in a new, cool, manly way. Today we love heritage brands and identify with items soaked in history.
Men care less about logos, which is why these iconic brands are more popular than ever.
When you look at something like a pair of work boots, there’s the authentic part—the functional design and durable construction—and also an element of style. They look good and speak to getting things done.Men today are connecting with things that have a familiarity to them. They appreciate the history behind them. There are a lot of similarities between this concept and my hometown. When I was a kid, Detroit was in survival mode. By the late 1970s, the city had completely fallen apart. Growing up in that environment, you learn to be a scrapper. The city is like a fighter. It’s been on the mat, like Rocky, battered and bruised, but somehow it just keeps getting back up. That’s why its music is tougher, sexier, angrier, and bluesier.Even the auto industry, reeling since the ’70s, is starting to come back. I’m blown away by the quality, value, and innovation of its products. The companies are doing great things and competing on a global field.Detroit is turning around in other ways too. Young people are coming to Detroit from all over the United States. There’s a sexiness to the grit and the opportunity. They’re opening art galleries, restaurants, speakeasies, stores, and music venues. They’re working hard, many as entrepreneurs. It’s a new frontier.Everywhere you turn, there’s something interesting happening. There is such a sense of pride among Detroit natives. Five years from now, when we’re talking about urban development, I believe that Detroit will be the most talked-about city in the world. And the spirit driving that is reflected in its work ethic, its progress, and its clothes.
Source: John Varvatos Detroit Style