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The History of Carhartt

The History of Carhartt

From its humble beginnings in 1889, Carhartt has grown to become one of the most trusted and respected sources of durable work wear in not only the United States, but in the entire world.

Hamilton Carhartt founded his namesake company on the premise of making quality work clothing that would last. He was notable for his progressive labor practices, which involved a fully unionized workforce and profit sharing amongst workers. Originally, Carhartt produced an innovative type of overall made specifically for railroad workers. These garments were heavy-duty and made of duck, a 100% cotton material similar to canvas. Mr. Carhartt travelled the country and visited different railroad divisions, advertising and selling his product. Within a few years, his overalls became the standard raiment for railroad workers across the nation. Soon, Carhartt expanded and began producing other types of rugged work apparel made from the same duck material. The company built a reputation of toughness and quality and continued to grow throughout the beginning of the twentieth century.

However, the Great Depression put the company on the brink of going out of business. After 1930, Carhartt had only three plants remaining in the United States. Looking for a way to stimulate his floundering enterprise, Hamilton Carhartt and his son Wylie founded the “Back to the Land” project. This project called for the joint operation of the Irvine, KY plant with the citizens of Irvine. This provided a much-needed spark and, once again, Carhartt began to flourish. Over the next few decades, 17 new plants and three new mills were opened. However, Hamilton Carhartt wouldn’t live to see much of this new development as he was killed along with his wife in an automobile accident in May of 1937. He was 82 years old. Control of the company was passed down to his sons who oversaw the growth of their father’s business throughout the rest of the century. Even today, Carhartt is still family owned and operated.

Carhartt is now recognized as one of the leading manufacturers of rugged outdoor and work wear. They are known for their water, abrasion, and fire-proof materials with heavy threads and reinforcing rivets. Carhartt products are trusted by workers and outdoorsmen who seek apparel that will stand the test of time. Durable, tough, and of the highest quality, Carhartt lives up to its motto of providing the “original equipment for the American worker.”


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