Style, durability and practicality don’t have to be mutually exclusive. If you’re having trouble finding clothing that ticks all three boxes, it could just be that you’re looking in the wrong places. Or, more specifically, buying from the wrong brands.
Workwear has long been a key source of inspiration for men’s style and many of the labels producing it have been perfecting their craft over decades. In some cases, centuries. This is clothing that’s been built to take a beating in the workshop or out in the elements, but it can also make a valuable contribution to your day-to-day wardrobe.
Good workwear is equal parts tough and timeless. These are the garments you’ll still be reaching for 30 years down the line, but only if you buy right in the first place. In order to help you do that, we’ve pulled together a list of what we believe to be the best workwear labels in the world right now. From historic bootmakers to purveyors of heavyweight Japanese denim, these are the workwear labels every Ape reader should know.
There’s no finer brand than Red Wing when it comes to labour-friendly footwear. The American label’s famously robust moc-toe boots have long been the go-to for those who need footwear that can take a beating and their rugged good looks have made them popular among style-conscious shoppers too.
Styles vary from traditional engineer boots to simple chukkas but almost all are made using the same hard-wearing vegetable-tanned leather. For footwear that’s built to last, this is about as good as it gets.
A brand that should need no introduction, Carhartt has been building some of the best workwear in the business for well over a century. From duck-canvas chore coats to carpenter jeans, the Michigan-born label has been behind some of the most iconic workaday garments ever conceived.
But it’s not all function and no fashion, the label’s streetwear-leaning WIP (Work In Progress) offshoot takes Carhartt’s trademark toughness in a slightly more style-led direction. As a result, you’re now as likely to see the brand being sported by fashion-conscious city dwellers in Europe as you are weather-beaten Midwestern builders.
Filson’s premium workwear garb is designed to do two things: last forever and look good while doing it. Price-wise, the Seattle-based brand comes in a little higher than the competition but when you take longevity into account it’s justified. You’re also paying for a lot of experience in the field. Filson has been kitting people out for life in the outdoors since the late 1800s and has gotten pretty good at it in the process.
This is traditional outdoor gear that’s built to last, steeped in a rich heritage and designed with timeless style in mind.
Founded in 2007, Californian essentials label Taylor Stitch was born out of three friends’ frustration at being unable to find the perfect shirt. In the end, they managed to make it themselves and followed it up with a whole collection, spanning every piece a man needs in his wardrobe.
Workwear staples like overshirts and denim are no exception and, in fact, many of the label’s designs draw heavily on workwear for inspiration.
Dickies is another workwear brand that has made inroads into streetwear. It still creates tough-as-nail gear for the daily grind, but it also produces fashion-forward pieces with a younger, trendier consumer in mind.
The brand started life making bib overalls in the 1930s, with a focus on affordability which it still maintains today. It’s clothing that’s tough enough to cope with the rigours of daily manual labour, but that hopefully won’t break the bank.
If it’s simple, no-frills workwear at a fair price that you’re after, look no further than Buck Mason. The brand operates on a direct-to-consumer model which means there are no retail markups. What that means for you is that you’re getting well-made clothes for significantly less than you’d pay elsewhere, including classic workwear pieces like flannel shirts, Japanese denim and robust outerwear.
Expect stylish yet timeless pieces perfect for everyday life.
Danton’s history can be traced back to the early 1930s in France but for several years now the label has been developed from Japan. The brand draws on classic French workwear designs to create stylish casual clothing that mixes function with fashion and is particularly well known for its lightweight down jackets and vests.
That’s not all though, Danton also makes outerwear, basics and accessories, all heavy on the traditional workwear styling but with a subtle contemporary twist.
Texas-based label Stan Ray has been making hard-wearing work clothes since the 1970s. It’s probably best known for its military-inspired fatigue pants but it also makes everything from outerwear to accessories.
Today, the label is still doing its thing, albeit with a bit more of a streetwear edge, and is still one of the best sources for well-priced workwear that’s built to last.
Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Danner is a historic American footwear brand known for producing some of the toughest boots on the face of the earth. And we mean tough. In fact, the Danner’s trademark build quality and ruggedness have earned the brand a contract with the U.S. Department of Defense, to manufacture boots for the Marine Corps. Suffice to say, if they’re good enough for them then they’re good enough.
Taking inspiration from classic workwear and military clothing, orSlow creates updated, premium versions of traditional workaday staples with a distinctly Japanese edge. Cuts are loose and roomy, fabrics are thick and heavy and quality is second to none.
All of the label’s garments are made in Japan using tough, long-lasting materials and built with longevity in mind. Expect things like relaxed-fit overshirts, baggy cargo pants, and lots of raw denim.