For designer Adam Kimmel, teaming up with Carhartt made plain and simple sense. He’s been a longtime fan of the Michigan-based brand, a classic American family-owned company that was founded in 1889. The longstanding mission of Carhartt is to develop rugged apparel for workers on and off the job. Kimmel, who founded his namesake label in 2004, creates utilitarian work wear with an elegant luxurious feel. Now in their second season of collaborating, Life+Times spoke with Mr. Kimmel about why at the end of the day, the key ingredient was to maintain a level of masculinity in his designs.
Life+Times: Your Spring/Summer 2012 collection is your second edition of the partnership between your namesake brand and Carhartt USA. How did this collaboration originally come about?
Adam Kimmel: The idea came from Jay Bell at Barneys. He said that if I went out to meet with Carhartt in Dearborn, Michigan and we were able to figure out a way to collaborate on a line together, then they would make an order. And I did just that. I flew to Michigan in June 2010 to meet with the team at Carhartt and there was amazing electricity there.
L+T: Why, in your opinion, does it make sense?
AK: First of all, the quality of Carhartt’s products are incredible and I was a big fan ever since I was a kid, so I was already very familiar with the Carhartt brand. I love the idea of taking that kind of quality product and slimming down the fit, softening the fabrics up a bit, and directing it toward a different part of the market than the usual Carhartt clientele. And, chiefly, my goal was to carry this out without losing the rugged look of Carhartt.
L+T: What are the main differences between your first and second collaboration with Carhartt USA?
AK: The second collection is a Spring/Summer line. The fabrics are lighter and the overall look is much more classic.
L+T: If you had to choose two iconic pieces from this collaboration, what would they be and why?
AK: I love the reversible welder’s shirts because of its reversibility. It’s a perfect spring t-shirt cover for cool spring weather. And I also love the blazers. Diehard Carhartt customers have long asked Carhartt to make formalwear so they could dress in Carhartt for every occasion. The fit of the blazers is great.
L+T: What approach did you take with this unique collaboration? What influences and references did you use when you began the design process?
AK: I wanted to respect the timeless look of the Carhartt brand and infuse it with a bit of luxury and more immediate comfort. It usually takes quite a few years to break in the famous Carhartt duck fabric coats, so this collection has a softer touch. No matter what, in the end, it had to look masculine.
L+T: The look book for the SS12 range is quite interesting as well. Can you give us a little context regarding this?
AK: The look book for the Spring/Summer line features a group of crazy artists called Paintallica. They drank all night while carving up the logs into totems that you can see in the photographs. These dudes are gutsy and tough, but they also have style, and I think that represents the intention of the collection very well.