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Carhartt Is the Uniform of Both the Right and the Left

In the heart of New York’s posh Soho neighborhood, nestled between other high-end retailers on Crosby Street, sits a boutique called WIP. You might think you’ve never heard of it before, but a neon pink sign in the window displaying the name “Carhartt” in swanky glowing script gives away the brand’s more humble roots. It’s a Carhartt store — the only one of its kind in the US — that sells upscale and tailored versions of the workwear they’ve been making for manual laborers since 1889.

The first time I strolled past the store, in 2013, during my inaugural summer in New York, I had to laugh. I had moved to the city from New England, and the idea of an upscale Carhartt store was the kind of thing that would lead my entire extended family (most of whom still lived in central Maine) to decry the idiotic consumerism of the hedonistic hell I had decided to call home. I could imagine my uncle Danny, a crass, charismatic guy who gives me the hardest time of anyone about living in New York, rolling his eyes, saying “that’s wicked f—ing dumb” in a thick Maine accent, and finishing it with a staccato laugh that’s more punctuation than anything else: “hah.” He wouldn’t be wrong.

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