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An insider’s tip: when Christian Audigier starts copying your style, things may have gotten out of hand. Add in a winking style guide or two, and the recent renaissance of heritage brands and workwear starts to look dangerously close to played out–at least from a trendwatcher’s perspective.

The only problem is that workwear was always more of a movement than a trend. Which raises the question of what’s left after the trend pieces dry up.

Naturally, we’ve got a few ideas…

Usually, when style writers talk about a trend—the nautical look, or the military look before that —they’re talking about a set of ideas and inspirations batted around between designers. But from the beginning, Americana was more in the hands of people looking for something to wear. The big brands (Filson, Red Wing, L. L. Bean) have never been much for runway shows. Even the standout designer, Daiki Suzuki, felt like less of an insider than a fellow crate-digger who just happened to know his way around a sewing machine.

Instead, the look came out of a need to fit a wardrobe full of hand-me-downs and eBay finds into a coherent style. The decline of American manufacturing is a story in there too, and so is the bloggy desire for style from a time before computers, but in the end it comes down to practical matters like fabric and stitching. If you’re digging through the ancestral closets and thrift bins of America, you’re going to find the clothes that lasted, and that’s going to mean thick flannels, work shirts and work boots. And the Woolrich jackets of the past couple years are only going to get better with age. Five years from now they won’t be as hip, but they’ll be every bit as handsome.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom