You See This Coat is a deep dive into an exceptional or influential piece of outerwear. From the history behind each design to charting significant or noteworthy evolutions, this series should give a little more context to the iconic coats and jackets that have shifted the modern menswear space.

Workwear mainstay and Detroit hometown-hero Carhartt has been outfitting hard-working men and women for over a century—131 years. The Carhartt Chore Coat has been along for 103 years of that journey, and ultimately, the name Chore Coat tells you much of what you need to know about this garment.

The silhouette first became popular with French workers, alongside the nickname bleu de travail or “worker’s blues.” Occasionally made with bleu de Nîmes fabric (aka: “blue fabric of Nîmes”—the predecessor to the term “denim”), these jackets were hard-wearing and built for work. Similar jackets can be dated back to the early-1800s, long before the brand’s namesake, Hamilton Carhartt, started out producing overalls with just two sewing machines and five employees in Dearborn, Michigan.

Carhartt’s brand archivist Dave J. More notes that a product called the Engineer Sack Coat was first shown in the 1925 Carhartt catalog, described as having “substantial weight” and offered in a handful of woven fabrics. Several years later, in 1928, the coat was first produced in brown duck fabric that has since become synonymous with the Chore Coat.

The coat’s signature qualities as we know them today include duck canvas material, triple-stitched seams for durability, and a pencil pocket over the left breast. Slight updates were made over the decades, including the addition of a familiar corduroy collar in the 1930s. In the 1960s, the pocket configuration was updated to reflect changing trends, as dedicated pocket-watch storage was no longer necessary due to the rise of wristwatches.

In 1989, Carhartt WIP (a more fashion-forward licensee of Carhartt short for “Work in Progress”) was established for the more design and fashion-conscious audience. Included in the first collection designed by Carhartt WIP was the Michigan jacket, a mirror of the original Chore Coat, for those that may not be wearing the jacket to sweat and toil, instead opting for Carhartt’s rugged practicality as an aesthetic statement. Carhartt WIP was established in 1989, around the same time that Carhartt’s baggy trousers and hoodies became popular with hip-hop fans, graffiti writers and skaters. Today, Carhartt WIP’s successes in the lifestyle segment are in-part thanks to collaborations with the likes of Patta, Stussy, and Nike.

A representative for Carhartt WIP told Dry Clean Only, “The Chore Coat has stood the test of time, because it is a simple yet functional design. It’s robust and hard-wearing, thanks to the heavy canvas or denim fabric used, as well as its triple stitch detailing, while it also provides plenty of storage space in the form of multiple pockets. Every element of this design serves a specific purpose, and the result is a coat which not only lasts but looks better as it ages.”

For collectors, vintage Carhartt Chore Coats are particularly desirable, and keen observers may even notice a similarity between the Carhartt trademark used until roughly the 1960s, and Human Made’s heart silhouette logo.

Deeply intertwined with the legacy of Carhartt, the Chore Coat is surely here to stay for another 100 years.

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