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From Doughboys to Double Fronts: A Legacy in Pants

By Dave J. Moore, Brand Archivist and Historian

We may have started making overalls at Carhartt in 1889, but our history with pants goes back almost as far. The oldest full catalog of products held by the Carhartt Archive (1900) included a huge assortment of pants, including trousers, lined trousers, corduroys, and waist overalls, which were essentially pants with buttons along the waistline to attach suspenders.

enlarge image Carhartt catalog, 1900
Carhartt catalog, 1900

Fast forward to 1918, when we were producing Service Trousers for American troops during the late stages of World War I. Built to the exacting technical specs of the US military for soldiers in the trenches, these jodhpur-style pants were based on cavalry tradition, and had eyelet holes with laces for securing them below the knee.

In the mid-‘20s, founder Hamilton Carhartt reflected on the company’s WWI production: “Before the Armistice was signed every one of our Units were busy night and day providing wearing apparel for the ‘Boys Over There.’ At the earnest solicitation of the Committee in charge, our Cotton Mills were endeavoring to furnish every possible yard of khaki cloth for the Government, which was so sorely needed. It may have been excess of patriotism that caused us to do it, but we purchased outright a splendid Cotton Mill and extended every effort to equip it solely and singly to manufacture nothing but khakis for the boys in the trenches.”

enlarge image Carhartt Service Trousers, 1918
Carhartt Service Trousers, 1918

Carhartt’s Super Dux outdoor clothing line, introduced in 1930, included the company’s first pants (and breeches) that featured weather-resistant, waterproof properties. You can learn more about our rich history in the outdoors here.

enlarge image Super Dux pants offerings pg 1, 1930
Super Dux pants offerings pg 1, 1930
enlarge image Super Dux pants offerings pg 2, 1930
Super Dux pants offerings pg 2, 1930

In 1939, a legend entered the arena, one that would ultimately prove out as Carhartt’s most iconic pant – the B01. When it was introduced, it was referred to simply as the “Brown Duck Waist Overall, Double Knee.” It was also produced in denim, a product essentially equivalent to today’s B07 Double Front Logger Dungaree Jean.

enlarge image Brown duck double knee waist overall, 1957
Brown duck double knee waist overall, 1957

The double front is a classic silhouette for Carhartt, and it’s seen all sorts of hardworking adaptation and advancement over the years:

  • 1950 - The White Waist Overall, Full Double Front (known today as the B04 Double Front Drill Work Dungaree) was introduced.
  • 1953 - The B01 was adapted for colder conditions by producing a blanket-lined version.
  • 1971 - Committed to completely weather-proofing the style, the B01 receives a quilt lining.
  • 1983 - The double front pants change from patch pockets to inset pockets, forever altering the look of the front of the pants. It’s a functional change, primarily, making it easier to get items in and out of the pockets.
enlarge image Double front pocket change, 1983
Double front pocket change, 1983

When we launched our Made in the USA product line in 2012, you’d better believe the double front B01 was among our flagship garments. Today, they are produced in our US facilities in Kentucky and Tennessee – one of which is located in the same town (Irvine, Kentucky) where we first began making our double fronts in 1939. The present day is an exciting time for pants at Carhartt, due in large part to the fact that we’re coming full circle in so many respects. For instance, we introduced our first pair of women’s jeans in 1949, and today, we’re expanding our offerings for women, working hard to continually improve fit, function, and comfort.

enlarge image Women’s Round-Up Pants ad, 1952
Women’s Round-Up Pants ad, 1952

Our first slimmer-fitting pants, known as “Huggers,” came on the market in 1963. Today, we’re experimenting with new stretch fabrics to create pants that fit closer to the body. Advanced by cutting-edge fabric technologies like Rugged Flex® , we’re helping our consumers get the range of motion they want without unwanted bulk.

enlarge image Carhartt Huggers, 1964
Carhartt Huggers, 1964

Naturally, our new styles of hunting pants draw directly from our long legacy in the outdoors. Not only do they keep the ‘30s Super Dux spirit alive with their ability to stand up to the elements, they’re also reinvigorating a legacy: camouflage. Fall 2018 marked the reintroduction of Mossy Oak® patterns to the Carhartt line, a relationship that first began over 25 years ago when we introduced hunting pants patterned in Mossy Oak® TreBark, one of the first camouflage patterns engineered specifically for hunters.

enlarge image Mossy Oak camo, 1997
Mossy Oak camo, 1997

We love our pants here at Carhartt — and keeping our customers satisfied with their long-lasting value, durability and innovation. That’s why we’ve been continually improving them for over a century. Our newest offerings for Fall 2018 are built just the way Hamilton’s were back in 1900, by talking to our consumers and constructing garments to their exact specifications. Thought it all, our motto has remained: If it ain’t functional, it ain’t worth it.

Here’s to another 118 years of hardworking Carhartt pants.


Products referenced in the article
Carhartt Men's Black Rugged Flex® Rigby Dungaree - front Carhartt Men's Black Rugged Flex® Rigby Dungaree - back Quickview
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Men's midweight pants that offer a full range of motion.

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Carhartt Men's Dark Khaki Canvas Work Dungaree - front Carhartt Men's Dark Khaki Canvas Work Dungaree - back Quickview
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Our classic work pants in a lightweight canvas and loose fit cut for men.

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Carhartt Men's Carhartt Brown Firm Duck Double-Front Work Dungaree - front Carhartt Men's Carhartt Brown Firm Duck Double-Front Work Dungaree - back Quickview
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Carhartt Men's DNM-Denim Flame-Resistant Denim Dungaree - front Carhartt Men's DNM-Denim Flame-Resistant Denim Dungaree - back Quickview
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