A Blue-collar legacy – The hickory stripe denim
Hickory stripe denim, characterized by its indigo and white striped pattern, stands as one of America's iconic workwear fabrics. It's closely associated with vintage railroad, carpenter, and painter garments, with its origins dating back to the "Old West" era (approximately 1865–1920). Although the precise history of hickory stripe denim remains somewhat elusive, it's believed to have evolved from the use of blue and white striped upholstery fabrics for railroad uniforms. Its practical striped design served to conceal dust and stains, while its aesthetic appeal played a significant role in establishing it as quintessential American workwear, particularly peaking in popularity during the early to mid-20th century.
No smoke without fire, but why hickory?
The origin of the term "hickory stripe" is also challenging to trace. Some sources suggest it might be due to its resemblance to the pattern of hickory tree bark, while others attribute it to its durability. Among the various workwear brands that have embraced hickory stripe denim over the years, a prolific American workwear brand founded in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 1895, stands out. They gained fame for their promotion of hickory stripe denim with the slogan "Tough as Hickory," contributing significantly to the fabric's enduring legacy in American workwear.
Our obsession with blue-collar aesthetics
When we developed our hickory stripe fabric, we had a clear vision for its characteristics. We aimed for a well-balanced stripe design, a tightly woven structure with a flat surface and noticeable stiffness. While the width of the indigo and white stripes is often perceived as uniform, our research revealed that vintage examples varied. Newer pieces with equal-width stripes often felt unbalanced. In the end, we opted for slightly wider indigo stripes paired with a medium shade of pure indigo, achieving a well-balanced stripe pattern and a clean blue shade.
Selecting the weave construction was a straightforward choice; we settled on a 2/1 weave, consistent with the vintage examples we examined. To simplify, the 2/1 designation indicates how the yarns are woven, with two over and one under. In contrast, regular jeans denim typically features a 3/1 weave, with three over and one under. The key distinction is that 2/1 weave fabrics often have a flatter surface and lighter weight. One variation among the vintage pieces we studied was the twill direction, with some exhibiting a right-hand twill and others a left-hand twill. We opted for a right-hand twill to give the lightweight denim a sturdy and durable feel throughout its lifespan, rather than a more drapey quality associated with left-hand twill denim.
In essence, our hickory stripe pays homage to the variations used in the first half of the 20th century. The garments we create with it draw inspiration from classic workwear styles while incorporating a modern approach to fits and construction.