How Yesterday's Blue-Collar Brands Became Today's Coolest Clothes

Dickies and Carhartt move from factory floor to millennial closet

Learn how the creator economy is transforming the marketing landscape, and how to cultivate partnerships to grow engaged communities at Social Media Week: The Creatorverse, May 16–18 in NY. Register now to secure your early bird pass.


Just a few years back, the L.C. King Manufacturing Co., founded in 1913 and the oldest family-owned cut-and-sew garment factory in the U.S., was nearly extinct. Inside the company's weathered brick factory in Bristol, Tenn., orders for workwear staples like overalls, chore coats and dungarees had slowed to a trickle. Sewing machines sat idle, a workforce of 130 having shrunk to eight. The 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, which lifted tariffs on cheap clothing from Mexico, was in part responsible for emptying the place out, but so was another major development: The core customers who'd kept L.C.

AW+

WORK SMARTER - LEARN, GROW AND BE INSPIRED.

Subscribe today!

To Read the Full Story Become an Adweek+ Subscriber

View Subscription Options

Already a member? Sign in