Thursday, April 09, 2009

Well Worn Foreman Blues

I have been thinking a lot about the aesthetics of tailored workwear. I am specifically interested in the "dressed up" workwear, both imagined and historical, made of unrefined materials.

In this concept we find inspiration in the often scorned, antihero foreman. His work on the factory floor necessitates clothing strong enough for manual labor in begrimed environments full of potentially hazardous equipment. To earn the trust and respect of the workers he oversees he must be prepared to roll up his sleeves in the trenches. Yet his daily business and frequent reporting to superiors requires him to be presentable in offices dominated by high-waisted jackets, waistcoats, and ties.

The internal alchemy of our protagonist consists of pragmatism mixed with a homebrewed brand of righteousness and a dash of ambition. A life of hard labor has instilled in him a proud work ethic, which has finally earned him a precarious position of comfort. His daily dealings with the politics of both labor and management at once restrains and informs his purchasing decisions.

The act of thoughtfully choosing clothing has cultivated his own sense of style, whether he is cognizant of this fact or not. The options of ready made clothing that fit his needs were limited. Levi Strauss' Spring Bottom Pants in gold back denim were popular among like-minded foremen and factory supervisors. What he could not find in stores he commissioned from a tailor versed in the dandy fashion of local businessmen. And of course he never missed an opportunity to network with other waiting patrons.

The vision of a well outfitted foreman will be an inspiration to my work in the coming months.