Recently, Carhartt opened a store on Milwaukee Avenue.
“Carhartt?” you may ask. Yeah, I asked the same thing, too.
In most places, like Indiana where I’m from, Carhartt clothing is worn mostly for practical reasons like staying warm or clean, often while doing construction work, farming or hunting. So it was confusing to see the store being perused by cool kids in the crux of Wicker Park’s shopping district, which is home to trendy chains like Urban Outfitters, Aldo, Levi’s as well as hip boutiques like Eskell and Una Mae’s. No offense, but it is hard to imagine that many customers in that neighborhood do the work or have hobbies that are commonly associated with Carhartt clothing.
What’s interesting, though, is that advertising for the new store seems to embrace the brand’s utilitarian roots.
I suppose the Carhartt brand is evolving a la Levi Jeans, which also has practical, utilitarian roots. I first heard about Carhartt’s urban presence on my recent trip to Amsterdam. A visiting pal from Oxford noted Carhartt’s European stores, and lo and behold, we came across one in Amsterdam. I didn’t go in this store to see what it offered, however, the Chicago store sells clothes you may expect from Carhartt like overalls, coveralls and coats, right alongside graphic t-shirts and hoodies.
When you think about it, wearing coveralls in Chicago during the winter could be a pretty smart way to keep warm. Maybe that should be Carhartt’s marketing angle instead of “Be a tough guy and wear these clothes.” No?