How Workwear Brands Became Fashionable: Dickies and Levi's

Updated on November 8, 2019
MaxSmithGanbaru profile image

I am a content writer and Hubpages contributor. I am a lover of music, culture and fashion and adore the overlap of the three topics.

Learn more about how workwear became a fashion statement, like this skater demonstrates.
Learn more about how workwear became a fashion statement, like this skater demonstrates. | Source

The Birth of Dickies Workwear

Dickies is an American workwear brand that first became present back in 1922. The brand focused its attention on creating workwear that was durable and built to last. On its creation, the workwear brand had no desire to draw attention to itself. As time progressed, Dickies workwear became an essential fashion statement, especially among skaters.

Nowadays, Dickies can be seen sported by celebrities such as Justin Bieber and A$AP Rocky. Dickies was one of the first workwear brands to become fashionable and boasts nearly a century of business. Other brands such as Patagonia, North Face, Carhartt, and Site King are also seen as fashionable by today's standards, even though this was not the intended purpose of the introduction of these brands. The question is, how did this happen, and are they around to stay?

Sunset skating in workwear brands.
Sunset skating in workwear brands. | Source

How Dickies Became the Uniform of Skaters

During the late '80s and early '90s, Dickies had started to attract the skate community to their brand. This was because the clothing was inexpensive, hard-wearing and had a sense of authenticity. It became the perfect attire to skate in and therefore became somewhat of a uniform among skaters.

The popularity of Dickies workwear led to other unconventional brands, such as North Face, attracting a larger market. The workwear industry owes a lot to skaters, as it was the skaters that helped push the clothing to the next level. Dickies recognised this and began to release clothing that was targeted towards skaters whilst retaining its signature patriotism. Dickies was the American dream of clothing, and this gave the brand further appeal.

Reinvention and Collaboration

As time progressed, the skateboarding base became older and began to move away from Dickies. This led to the company reinventing itself to become more fashionable. Dickies had become a global brand with a strong American feel. This reinvention was a success and led to a collaboration with Opening Ceremony. This merge combined the high price tag of Opening Ceremony alongside the authentic feel of Dickies workwear.

Another Workwear-to-Fashion Brand: Levi's

Just like Dickies, Levi's is another brand that become fashionable over time. The original Levi's jeans were designed for workers of the mines. This is why they were so strong and reliable. As time went on, people adopted these durable jeans in everyday life, and now Levi's have grown to become one of the most successful clothing brands of all time. Levi's had a head start on Dickies, as Levis jeans were first introduced in the 1800s.

The Story of Levi's Jeans

The original 501 Levi's jeans were first introduced in the 1890s. These tough jeans were designed for miners, cowboys and farmers. Women wore the original Levi's; however, as time progressed, Levi's introduced their own range of 501 jeans, which were fitted especially for women.

It was not until the late 1940s that the 501 jeans became a part of mainstream media. Celebrity icons such as Marilyn Monroe wore 501 jeans. This dramatically improved popularity among women, and soon the shift started moving towards designer fashion as opposed to strictly workwear.

Levi's Becomes the Biker Brand

Just like skaters adopted Dickies, bikers adopted Levi's. Levi's jeans became a rebellious symbol in culture, which led to their increased popularity. Marlon Brando famously wore 501 jeans as well as greasers and motorcycle gangs.

During the '60s, Levi's reinvented themselves once again and introduced paint, rips and patches to symbolise self-expression. Nowadays, we regard Levi's as a designer brand and often forget that the foundation was built on the working man and woman.

The Levi's website features an interesting timeline that explains the story of the brand in full. The timeline can be found at Levi's Jeans Timeline.

Man wearing work attire
Man wearing work attire | Source

Practical Fashion and Workwear

Many brands such as North Face have seen mainstream success due to their products practical use in the real world. Workwear has become attire that can be worn in almost any scenario. Cargo trousers were historically worn for work; however, more people wear these trousers in everyday life as they provide additional storage. The practicality and convenience of workwear is another reason why so many people adopt this clothing style into their everyday life.

Practicality is the big trend of the 21st century. People love convenience, which is why apps like Uber or JustEat are so popular. We are evolving to become more practical, and this can be reflected in the clothing we choose to wear.

Designer workwear has left a gap for inexpensive brands to provide workwear for consumers.

Workwear Is Fashionable, But for How Much Longer?

It is obvious that workwear has reached somewhat of a fashion statement. More people are paying top prices for workwear brands. Over the past years we have seen more collaborations between fashion brands and workwear brands, which has led to celebrity endorsement and high price tags. When a celebrity such as Justin Bieber wears an item of clothing, you can almost guarantee it will become more popular. This is what we are seeing a lot of with workwear brands.

Workwear Is Here to Stay

What we get now is a split between high cost designer workwear and true to the core workwear brands. Designer workwear has left a gap for inexpensive brands to provide workwear for consumers. The split between fashion and practicality in workwear means the industry has double the market to dominate.

This means consumers have the choice between affordable yet durable workwear and also designer workwear. Both markets have their own appeal, which signals that the industry will continue to dominate. Celebrity endorsement has helped a great deal in pushing workwear brands such as Dickies and I believe that this "trend" is here to stay.

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    • MaxSmithGanbaru profile imageAUTHOR

      Max Smith 

      2 years ago from London

      Thank you for the kind words :)

    • NessMovieReviews profile image

      Mother of Movies and Series Reviews 

      2 years ago from Moreton Bay, Queensland

      Awesome first article. Keep up the good work!


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