Domestic Workwear officially enters the fashion scene | Bleader

Friday, January 13, 2012

Domestic Workwear officially enters the fashion scene

Posted By on 01.13.12 at 04:00 PM

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  • Domestic Workwear
Workwear is a reliable men’s clothing trend, but some people just need clothes for, you know, real work. Daniel Evans creates clothing under the name Domestic Workwear that is designed and tested to be able to handle long hours of physical labor.

Evans was working as a mover, often handling events for fashion companies like Beta Boutique and Style Chicago, and got to know local designers and others in the fashion scene. He noticed that the inexpensive clothes he wore weren’t up to the demands of his job: “I was busting through a lot of cheap work pants.” Realizing they were all made cheaply overseas, he started thinking about value for money and the benefits of local production. He found a factory in Garfield Park that makes uniforms for firefighters, the military, and other public workers, and he decided to launch a line of locally made work clothes.

Evans has been prototyping clothing for about two years and officially launched Domestic Workwear last spring—“I didn’t want to come out with a brand and promises I couldn’t keep,” he says. Designs are simple, “really unassuming, clean basic cuts, no labels or logos.” The Sweetbutter pants are made of preshrunk brushed bull denim cotton. Pockets are made of strong fabric to allow for holding tools and other working person's accessories, while the seat is designed to hold up to a lot of squatting and bending, with the added benefit of being cut high enough to avoid the dreaded plumber’s butt. “Service industry people love these pants,” says Evans, as well as office drones. “They’re essentially flat-front chinos.”

At around $90, the price, of course, is higher than what you’d pay for Dickies at Penney's, but Evans is adamant that the value is better. ”These pants might costs twice as much but they last three times as long, so they’re technically cheaper,” he notes. “A mover can pay 60 bucks for a bag of weed . . . a bag of weed lasts you three days. I think you can make a case for ponying up an extra 30 or 40 bucks for your pants.”

He also offers a City Mouse Country Mouse work coat, inspired by and produced in collaboration with an Amish community in Ohio, and is working on shirts made out of recycled plastic bottles as well as work pants for women that will be specially sized to reflect different hip-to-waist ratios. “All told I’ll have, like, 23 sizes of women’s work pants and they will also be adjustable within that,” he says. “I’m charging 100 bucks, I wanna make sure they fit really good. And if they’re going to last that long, your body might change.”

Evans estimates costs for clothes to range from about 60 or 70 dollars for shirts to up to $250 for jackets—more expensive than what’s on sale at Sears, but hardly stratospheric, especially when you consider that they’re made locally with mainly American-made materials; about 90 to 95 percent, Evans says. To keep costs down as much as possible, he is planning on selling directly to consumers, although he is currently talking to some stores. A few pieces are available at Made Gallery, 1711 S. Halsted. “I’d love to work with more companies and businesses—delivery companies, moving companies. I’d love to get into uniform contracts,” he says.

Evans’s enthusiasm, positivity, and community-mindedness are so strong it was hard for me not to be completely charmed, even as my in-box gets more cluttered with e-mails announcing retail closings and slightly desperate-sounding sales every week. He’s excited about working with the Amish and talks about how many of the younger people have had to move into light manufacturing, as there aren’t enough farms to give this growing population enough work. He goes on about trying to revive apparel manufacturing in Chicago and really give graduates of the city’s fashion programs incentive to stay and work here. It’s a vision of a small business model that seems to be more of a mirage than ever, but he’s passionate enough to make me hope that the old saw about hard work and some good luck being enough is true—at least once in a while.

Evans will have a launch party for Domestic Workwear and sell men's and women's items next Wednesday, January 18, at 8 PM at Hollywood Lounge, 3301 W. Bryn Mawr. The event also features bands Names Divine, Quicksails, Ryley Walker, and Murdertron 4000, as well as the DJs of Stripped and Chewed Records. Admission is free.

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