Dickies Went from Worksite to Runway by Staying True to its Brand

Oct 2, 2018

When you think of cutting edge clothing and fashion branding, almost no one turns to construction workers for inspiration.

However, that’s exactly what’s happened with the rise of Dickies brand pants and jackets into popular culture. Dickies has its roots in outfitting military troops during World War II and supplying the go-to work pant for construction workers, painters, window cleaners and all kinds of blue collar laborers since the 1920s.

The Rise of the Straight Leg

No one affiliated Dickies with high fashion, but a flurry of new trends has ushered in a new era for the brand. GQ recently ruled the “skinny jean” is dead, and a more loose-fitting, relaxed look is now in vogue. Dickies was perfectly positioned to take advantage of this trend given their classic straight-legged style. The brand acted fast by partnering with Urban Outfitters, Stussy, and other retailers to get its clothes in front of a new segment of shoppers.

The efforts have paid off. Dickies have become a wardrobe staple for everyone from rappers in New York to pro skateboarders on Venice Beach. As GQ recently declared, “Dickies are on top of the world” and “the coolest pants you can own.”

Dickies never shed the working-class values that made it so successful. It didn’t have to. In fact, this history is part of what solidifies its popularity today. Look no further than the brand’s Instagram feed, which has evolved into a healthy mix of young urbanites and middle-aged laborers. Urban Outfitters market Dickies products by saying they “embody the pride + durability of the American working class.”

Long Story Short: When industry trends offer opportunities to reach new customers, companies have to strike the right balance between updating their brand and retaining the fundamental values that helped them stand out in the first place.

This article also appeared in our weekly newsletter, Long Story Short. It was written by Ben Cooper.

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