Only Buy It Once: Carhartt Jackets

Published On 10/16/2014 Published On 10/16/2014
Only Buy It Once: Carhartt

Carhartt. Car-hartt! It's great to say, isn't it? 

It's also great (and smart) to wear. Carhartt's provided some of the best-designed jackets and outerwear since 1889, coast to coast—donned by everyone from farmers in eastern Colorado (I'm from there) to trendsetters here in New York City. 

Let's learn some more.

Started in Detroit, Michigan, Carhartt clothes were designed for workers, mostly outdoors (read: railroads), who needed tough, resistant boots, overalls, and jackets in harsh northern winters. But the company almost didn't make it through the 20th century.

The Great Depression of the1930s nearly killed Carhartt off, leaving it with only three plants still operating, down from 17. Founder Hamilton Carhartt and his son, Wylie, hit the road to pump life back into the brand, settling in Irvine, Kentucky. To this day, the company operates much of its services from Irvine.


It wasn't until the 1990s that the label went mainstream. How? Crack cocaine. Drug dealers took to the streets wearing Carhartt during the crack epidemic of the late 1980s and early '90s. The jackets kept them warm at night and provided hiding places for product. Soon, the look caught on as a staple in street-wear, just as trendy for rappers and teenagers as it was practical for farmers and construction workers. 


The handsome light brown is the most signature color for the outerwear, with a soft lining and heavy-duty exterior that make it a dream for windy, brutally cold climates. Similar to Red Wing boots, the jackets age beautifully, even as you put them through the harsh elements. Like Colorado in the winter. 

The one I bought in high school still fits and is as warm as the day I walked out of the store. My go-to winter look is a hoodie underneath the jacket you see above. Warm but flexible and breathable, it's perfect for driving, hiking, a bar, or an outdoor sporting event, though why would you want to do the last one?


Carhartt promises a 30-day guarantee on all their products, so you can return them for a full refund if you're not pleased. But here's guessing whomever works in Carhartt's returns department is not fielding calls from dissatisfied customers. My family has a collective 100+ years wearing Carhartt and the only ones we don't still own have been lost.

Like all well-loved items, the jackets fade and show life. But it's a utilitarian look that's both timeless and incredibly durable, so these should last you the majority of your adult life...just be sure you keep them washed. Typically, they never range higher than $150. For a piece that will last upwards of 25 years, that's not a bad deal. Buy it once, own it for life.

Ryan Hatch is the deputy editor for Supercompressor. He stands and looks at himself in the mirror every morning in the same manner as this guy in the above picture. Tweet at him and tell him whether you think this is true or not. 



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