Workwear Origins - Where Your Favourite Items Come From
As you step out onto the New Zealand streets and see unique people all around you, you’ll undoubtedly see people wearing modern workwear to make a fashion statement. Denim jackets with loose-fitting designs and durable boots that can be worn on any terrain are stylish in streetwear, but they weren’t always worn for fashion.
Workwear originates from the working class - individuals who wear sturdy, protective clothes to stay safe during their jobs. These types of rugged outfits may have started as practical pieces that were created without fashion in mind, but they’ve transitioned into a staple for many fashion and streetwear enthusiasts.
Where Does Workwear Come From?
Workwear clothing like denim and dungarees were originally mass-produced to be worn by the working class during their jobs. These clothes were designed to be durable, not stylish, and were made with additions like copper rivets to make them stronger.
Currently, it’s hard to look anywhere in a modern space and not see people wearing clothing with design influences from workwear and a prime example of this would be jeans.
When did these clothes change from working-class outfits to fashion workwear looks? In the 1930s, while class struggles began to occur, workwear started to take on social meaning. Donning the overalls or boots that were often worn by miners and factory workers displayed a closeness to the working class and an understanding of what people go through to put food on the table.
Fashion designers started to take inspiration from the working class as time went on. Articles of clothing like tough-as-nails outerwear, military uniforms, jeans and heavy boots started to be seen as more than just what you wear to perform physical labour.
Fast-forwarding to the 90s, workwear still held a place as a social statement. The skateboarding and music subcultures (e.g punk and hip-hop) wore these clothes to display their spirit for the realities of everyday life and because they were cheap, durable and customisable. Rugged workwear outfits that used to be a sign of tradespeople have now made their way into the mainstream.
You will often see people customising and creating art with their outfits due to the fact that many workwear items are made from cotton canvas! They are literally a blank slate for self expression! We encourage the pairing of the right fashion workwear with other types of clothing that perfectly compliments the practical, utilitarian vibes of the workwear style. These types of clothing are usually made of tough materials like denim, cotton canvas, leather and more.
Those who aren’t used to modern streetwear may see these rough-and-stiff clothes and think that they have no place in contemporary fashion, but workwear has become a go-to for many. Whether you’re showing your association and understanding of the hardworking people of the past and present or you simply love how these fabrics feel, you can sport your own style of workwear in many different ways.
How You Can Wear Your Favourite Workwear Without Looking Custume-y
How do you start wearing workwear? This style is here to stay, and we know you’ll be seeing rugged looks in the streetwear subculture for a long time. Many renditions of workwear outfits exist in the modern world. They can range from looking like you’ve just returned from manual labour to looking like you pulled on your favourite denim jacket over your more fashion-forward clothing. Dressing top to toe in workwear can be done right but be careful that you don’t try too hard and end up looking like a cosplay from a different era!
What should you do when wearing this style? Streetwear doesn’t have many set-in-stone rules, but there are certain types of fits, textures, garments, and details that flawlessly match the feel you’re going for.
Relaxed, Comfortable And Ready For Anything Fits. Remember, workwear channels the spirit of the working class; you’re not here to walk the runway! These outfits tend to focus on the realistic aspects of wearing clothing, not style points (that’s just a bonus!). Relaxed, loose-fitting designs that focus on comfort and function are key.
Tough And Rough Accessories. Accessories can really add that extra something you need to perfect your look.It is easy to add accessories like a cap or jewellery to make the look more street vs work. Warm beanies can keep you comfortable, and robust textured canvas bags will keep your items safe.
Purchasing new accessories can be a slippery slope because it’s easy to keep buying more and more to match different looks. However, an awesome thing about workwear fashion is that one pair of leather boots or a single cotton canvas bag can go a long way - you can wear them with countless other looks, workwear or not.
Muted, Neutral Colours. Workwear traditionally is not designed to stand out, it is meant to be worked in, so you mostly see these clothes with muted colours like beiges, greys, khaki, navy, brown and so on. These tones easily work together to create a complete look, the whole point being they are practical and give your ensemble the vibe that you’re here to get the job done, not fuss over your clothing .
Of course, if you’re looking to mix things up, some fashion brands have flipped the neutral/ plain aesthetic of workwear and added bold colours and/or patterns to clothing so you can add a statement piece to your outfit and make things distinctive and interesting.
Find Your Personal Style Via Quality Clothing In Our Online Store
Visit us at Indigo & Provisions for quality clothing and accessories that take influence from workwear style. You can find clothing and accessories from well-known brands from all over the world to add to your New Zealand wardrobe’s roster.
Got any questions for us? Call us at (03) 925 9434 to reach us, or visit our website to find our contact info.
Workwear has transitioned from solely practical working clothes to a style that can be worn by anyone for any situation - implement it into your own personal style with help from us at Indigo & Provisions.