The concept of utilitarian workwear is grounded in the blue collar, roughhewn aesthetic of a more proletariat class. The working man, the rugged people who supported a society from factories and fields and everywhere in between.
Surrounded by the holy tech ground of today’s San Francisco, there’s a need to remember the heart of the city that lies in a pragmatic, sensible kind romance. Before we grew up, this cityscape was dockworkers and factory hands, people made strong by the asperous geography. We can still see it this way; that dodgy fog and those impossible shades of green as classic and fundamental to our story as the generations of San Franciscans that built our city. Today, Millennials and inner-city kids embraced the oppressive nature of workwear as daily wear. It takes the need of San Francisco’s business casual and rebels with silhouettes that mask the form of the body. Making it genderless, timeless, effortless.
// Modeled by Alisha, Joel, Julião, Teresa, and Xuy, directed and edited by Linda Mai Green, art direction by Linda Mai Green + Isabella Hill, cinematography by Joshua Pausanos, 1st AC: Ashley Valenzuela, 2nd AC: Robin Phillips, still photography: Derek Yarra, styling: Kat Yeh, beauty: Dana Akashi, score: Drama. Story written by Isabella Welch and Megumi Hiramoto.
History of workwear:
Levi’s exist at the root of local workwear, the brainchild of prospector Levi Strauss in post-Gold Rush SF. He defied the trouser, the khaki, and the basic pant altogether with his first pair of blue jeans in 1873. Today, the brand continues to update their functional, durable denim as well as expand casual, durable clothing across the board.
With the long history of the Davis family’s involvement in the garment industry since the mid-1800s, Ben Davis founded his company in 1935 to produce tough workwear clothing.
The New Guard:
Inspired by traditional workwear, three local brands–Landbreakers, Ijji and Evan Kinori–have thrived with unique approaches.
Landbreakers playfully redefines workwear clothing with embroidery and beading. SF native Isabella Hills reflects on her childhood environment, where she grew up surrounded by artists and creators, through her designs. Sturdy canvas jackets finely lined with flannel on collar and cuff balance out the femininity of embroidery.
At the hands of Ijji, workwear isn’t merely functional, but effortless as well. This brand name came from the Japanese word “i-ji-pantsu,” which describes loose-fitting drawstring pants. Most of the brand’s items are made from tightly woven Japanese canvas that ensures comfort and durability.
Evan Kinori, a pattern-maker, designs workwear-inspired clothing with a sense of sophistication and casualness. He utilizes simple patterns and topnotch fabrics such as silk, wool and corduroy. Workwear clothing that you can dress up in–that’s what Kinori makes.