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Carhartt Goes Upscale In SoHo

Everybody knows Carhartt. They are the unofficial designer of construction workers everywhere. The stuff wears like iron, some of it is even flameproof, and best of all it's cheap —which therefore makes it equally popular among young hipsters in that ironic/rugged Americana sort of way. Those who are used to picking up their canvas chinos and chore coats at Dave's Army & Navy, however, will be in for a surprise when they get a load of the new Carhartt store on Crosby Street that opened yesterday. There they will find slim-cut khakis, soft flannel shirts and jackets that have been trimmed down dramatically from the brand's traditional refrigerator-shaped fit along with prices that are double and triple what they are used to seeing.

This new store is the stateside debut of Carhartt's Work In Progress line. For a few years now, Carhartt has been selling a European-designed premium collection overseas that leverages the brand's appealing, durable reputation for a line meant for people not as likely to be waking up early to lay bricks or pour a concrete floor. Let's say it's a latent, but not unwelcome version of the Red Wing Boot/Wolverine 1000 Mile/Pendelton/Woolrich effect. It's the authentic workwear look people now want at a the luxurious quality level acceptable to the sort of person who knows what an authentic workwear look is. While prices are substantially higher than the traditional Carhartt line, they tend to fall in the men's contemporary range with jeans and shirts checking out at around $100-$125 for example, so it's not a total luxury takeover of the brand. There are gloves, belts and other accessories that also balance the label's rugged image with the level of refinement in suited to the premium line.

The new shop has a simple, brick wall/wooden shelf look that befits the brand's no-nonsense roots, jazzed up with a neon script Carhartt sign glowing on the wall. We would love to say that the staff at the new Carhartt shop were thrilled to see a customer come through their doors on their rainy first day open, but they seemed to be too busy congratulating each other to pay much attention to The Shophound poking around. What can we say? Considering that the shop is on a particularly sleepy stretch of Crosby Street, we are guessing that necessity will force them to better engage their customers, especially after having to repeatedly explain who they are to the inevitable misguided construction workers who find themselves there.

Carhartt Work In Progress Now open at 119 Crosby Street between Houston & Prince Streets, SoHo


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