The History of The Dungarees

In a world where fashion is fast-paced and ever-changing, the humble dungarees have maintained their status of being a well-worn piece for decades, mainly due to their simplicity, durability and functionality. Starting out as a key piece of day-to-day uniform for many people, they were initially something relatively anti-fashion and were definitely designed with hard graft in mind. Nowadays, they are a prime example of workwear that works from anyone, anywhere. From the workshop, to the skate park and anywhere in between, they have withstood the test of time and will continue to do so for decades to come. 

The name actually originates from India, one of the greatest textile exporters in the world, back in the 17th Century, where a city near Mumbai was producing a fabric called ‘ Dungri cloth’ which tended to be a lot more hard-wearing that fabric that had been previously manufactured. Companies in the West discovered that this was a great way of clothing their workforce and so, huge shipments of the fabric were sent out. Iconic American brand, Levi Strauss, used the fabric to create the first recognisable pair of bib overalls in the year 1853, ensuring that they were easy to slip in and out of, comfortable enough to wear each day and protective enough for work in factories, on farms, in the mines etc. Another iconic brand who were responsible for the beginnings of the dungarees we know and love today is Oshkosh B’Gosh, who specialised in the classic blue-and-white hickory stripe bib overalls, which have played a huge part in inspiring a piece that we’ll be releasing later on this year. Following this, this style became the everyday uniform of blue-collar works across the globe.

During WW1, dungarees and overalls were worn by Land Girls who were changing gender dynamics forever by taking up a lot of the jobs and responsibilities that were previously taken up by men, whilst they had gone off to serve in the war. Their everyday clothes were deemed as too unsafe to wear whilst working in the factories, so lots of brands scrambled to create the workwear that women needed. In the 70s, the dungaree took on a new shape - a more flared, bell bottom trouser worn by hippies and the like, and then they blew up in popularity again throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, particularly with hip-hop artists, but even people such as Princess Diana and Rachel from Friends were seen rocking them. 

Today, dungarees are a symbol of nostalgia and authenticity. They are super versatile , and although they have absolutely evolved since their origins, now coming in so many different shapes, fabrics and colours, they remain a reminder of the past and the history that they carry with them.