Throughout my 'career' in clothing biz I haven't stumbled up on many pants that would be so freaking great and affordable at the same time. Yes, I'm talking about the Dickies 874 work pants. Pants that fit universally almost everyone in any given day. Although being a work pant, by only changing your tee to a shirt and a blazer they can suit you from work to late night dinner and afters. Yeah, I'm slightly stoked while writing about this matter at hand.
Dickies makes good basics, and during these turbulent times that's something that shouldn't be overlooked. As my old boss used to say 'good things takes you to good places', and wearing great pants more specifically can take you even further. For me personally it has always been the pants that makes the fit. While my line of work is hardly physical Dickies work pants are my weapon of choice in nine out of ten times. So, here you go let's take a look on the story behind these amazing pants.
Most of the old workwear brands have ventured on to the fashion side pretty much during the modern times, but Dickies is one of those OGs who has stayed true to its roots. For sure they have also had their fancy fashion collabs and other tomfoolerys. But more often than not when you see a dude or dudette rocking a pair of Dickies, they wanna have something easygoing and sturdy on their legs while enjoying this thing called life. That doesn’t mean that Dickies wouldn’t look cool as fuck. After all they have over 100 years of knowledge under their belt on how to make a damn durable pair of pants.
To get started we begin our journey from a small town in Texas called Bryan, where gentlemen Charles Williamson and Emmet Dickie aka ’Colonel’ began their business venture in the ’vehicle and harness’ business. Decision to go out of their way and start manufacturing workwear got started when these two rascals established the U.S. Overall Company back in 1918. As you could have guessed they began manufacturing bib and brace overalls. Then later in 1922 Don Williamson, his dad and cousin purchased the overalls biz and renamed the company as Williamson-Dickies Manufacturing Company.
Like most clothing manufacturers during World War II the U.S. Government, requested its businesses to help out and start producing uniforms for the military to help with the war effort. Dickies uniforms got a lot of praises from the veterans who served for its quality and durability. This helped Dickies enormously when after the war the factories turned into making civilian workwear. By the end of the war Dickies’ rep was nationwide thanks to the word of mouth of these men and women who served and spread the word after returning to their home towns. With their service and quality uniforms came great pride which was well attached to Dickies as well. Romantic to say the least.
Williamson-Dickies Mfg. Co. didn’t stop there. By the late 50’s they had entered the international market, expanding into Europe and the middle-east. The Texan oil workers who were send to work in the middle eastern oil fields brought their Dickies with them, relying on their quality and durability. Workers did especially like the khaki pants or chinos how ever you want to call them. As their popularity grew they sought after new avenues for income and entered the laundry industry. These guys were always in the lookout for new business ventures which didn’t always go too well.
Williamson-Dickies laundry biz blew up so quickly that they decided to permanent crease their garments, like the work pants in order to save humongous amounts of time and money. To make all this happen they contacted Harris Laboratories who were pioneers on the hair permanent business at the time. Dickies asked if it would be possible to process the work pants in the same way as hair, and Lab guys went out and delivered.
Although the idea was brilliant to say the least, this long research adventure at Harris Laboratories was shot down, because with the permanent crease the pants became brittle and weakened after few washes. Lads at Dickies were not discouraged and continued the research. Finally Dickies and Harris came to a conclusion that by merging polyester with the cotton they would get the strength and durability that they were after.
After a long and wonky start with the permanent crease Williamson Dickies issued an unconditional guarantee on quality and durability of all their work clothes manufactured thereafter. This guarantee has since become the cornerstone on how all Dickies work clothes are made till this day.
1960’s was just around the corner and lads at Dickies were on the lookout for a new look for the brand. Don Williamson was determined to build up the company’s international presence. So, in 1960 Dickies built a huge manufacturing plant in Belize formerly known as ’British Honduras’. This venture didn’t go too smooth while the hurricane Hattie destroyed the whole plant. But as you can imagine Don was a stubborn man and they rebuilt the plant and expanded to supply the European demand.
Williamson Dickies continued expanding and by the late 70’s they would dominate the workwear market in the US. They had expanded their product catalogue from pants to a range of products like shirts, jackets, caps, sweatshirts, socks and more. On the later part of the 1970’s they even began opening their own stores around the U.S. By this time our finding fathers Williamson and Dickie had retired and left the company to their youngions.
We’ve travelled a long way and now we finally arrive to the beginning of the 1990’s. 90’s was really turbulent time in America and the culture went through massive shift. This shift came as usual with a lot of new competition for Dickies. Many of whom were international by this point and had moved their manufacturing to China and Taiwan while looking for cheaper labour. This made it all more difficult to the smaller companies to keep up with the competition.
Dickies however found a totally new customer base. And like ever so often the new demand rose from the counterculture scene, from hip hop to be exact. Although Dickies were worn by the hardcore and skater kids already throughout the 80’s thanks to their blue collar roots and accessibility, it was Hip Hop that brought Dickies to the mainstream. Dickies work pants were one of those key elements in gang attire in Los Angles during 80's and 90's. And from the same LA neighbourhoods rose acts like N.W.A, Snoop Dog and Cypress Hill who kept rocking the hood attire and brought Dickies pants to world arenas. And funny enough it was this street cred that gave Dickies the much needed upper hand against their long time rivals such as Lee, Wrangler and Levi’s, Dickies was street they were cool.
By the late 1990’s Dickies hype was on its all time high, and it wasn’t just a workwear brand anymore but a fashion staple. Although guys at Dickies were very pleased with all this success they wanted to stay loyal to their blue-collar roots. So, they kept running the biz as usual throughout the mayhem. From there on till this day Dickies has stayed true to the thing they are known for and that’s durable and quality workwear.
874 Work pant
This is without question the Dickies product. These are the working man’s chinos. This icon was born in April 1967, made up of 65% cotton and 35% polyester cloth with X-it stain release finish. You may wonder where the name comes from. Well, the 874 was just simply the next number in-line after previously released 871, 872 and 873. The 874 is a comfortable, durable and accessible pair of pants that can truly take you from the construction site to a dinner and beyond.
The 874 didn’t rise to stardom overnight though. One of the first sightings of work pants worn outside workplace was by the Latin American’s in Southern California during the 1980’s. From there on their street cred grew through various subcultures, resonating with two of the world’s best cultural forces: music and skate. The 874 were perfect fit for the skaters in the late 80’s thanks to their baggy look and supreme toughness that could endure the skaters lifestyle.
Early popularity within skating is thought to have been driven by legends like Julien Stranger and his mates on AntiHero, Zero and Toy Machine at the time. Another scene that the Dickies 874 are synonymous with is the 90’s rap scene as I mentioned before.
So, how do these bad boys fit you may ask? 874 is a true epitome of perfect fit. Pants that fit everyone. It’s original fit, a semi-permanent seam and straight-leg cut that gives you that much desired baggy and relaxed fit. They sit slightly higher at the waist and they have been finished with the wrinkle-resistant crease in order to keep you looking good all day and night long. Sizewise I recommend you to size up one size from your usual as they run small.
In conclusion these are the perfect pair of pants and they are now available in store and online in four colours and all sizes.