Nike and Carhartt WIP, a relationship between ducks and tigers

The centenary of the birth of Carhartt in 1989 served as a way for the brand that had cemented its history in workwear to discover a new type of consumer. Their products, designed to be used in the worst working conditions and turned into examples of inmortal items, became the favourites of the other type of people from the streets that enjoyed wearing these pieces beyond their limits.



Carhartt WIP (Work In Progress) was born in Europe with the help of Edwin Faeh, a distributor much more interested in materials than in brands. In the eighties Faeh used to buy Carhartt product in the United States, but wasn’t allowed to sell the brand in France because they eliminated labels, they bleached and retouched Carhartt pieces until turning them into completely new products.
Unbeknownst to her, the Faeh family was presenting Carhartt to a new type of European consumer. Already in the nineties the brand proposed to sell products under the label Carhartt WIP, as a way of maintaining two different styles in the two focal points in which the brand had been developing, the United States and Europe.

Carhartt WIP managed to be reborn as a way of expression of a new generation that was also looking towards Detroit, but this time not at the car factories but the music. The patrons adapted this new style but maintained two constants related to the origins of the brand, Duck and Camo. They are also the base of their collaboration with Nike.



The short version says that Duck comes from the Dutch word that is used to refer to the textile (Doek). The more literary version says that the boat transportations that separated the looms depending on its weight 
and it was associated to a type of bird. The weighty cotton was represented by the duck, so much so that it became Carhartt’s mascot. The classic brown colour has its origin on the founder of the brand, Hamilton Carhartt, who started using it in 1915 as a substitute to the indigo, a dye that was more expensive and difficult to find. Turned into the colour of reference for the brand, its official name is Hamilton Brown, as a reminder of Carhartt’s origins.



The Camouflage reached Carhartt in 1984 but it was key in its development of Carhartt WIP, first with the classic ERDL and later with different versions developed by the brand, with such faraway inspirations like the Bild newspaper. Between the most distinctive ones is the tiger camo, a pattern used in Asian armies that was inspired in articles used by the French army in the ‘40s. Even though officially it was never used by American armies, the tiger camo was adopted by American troops in Vietnam due to its efficiency in jungle areas. Its appearance in Apocalypse Now and its unofficial quality turned its camouflage pattern into a favourite among different subcultures. 


The collaboration between Nike and Carhartt WIP centres around the Duck Canvas and the Tiger Camo as unifying elements. Details that are added to the first work overalls by Carhartt, but also the classic Michigan Chore Coat and the Tiger Camo over a ripstop fabric with orange accents. Different versions of the Air Force and the baseball caps centre around classic elements to celebrated the first and much await collaboration between Nike and Carhartt WIP.