Dickies: An iconic American brand now focuses on workwear business in India - IndiaRetailing.com (2023)

Karthikeya R Reddy, CEO and Director, ID Overseas Private limited, the exclusive licensee of Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing company in India shares his perspective on the workwear market and how things have changed post their entry in the country. in an exclusive interview, he shares key insights, his planning and approach towards the Indian market. The company hopes to support the ‘Make in India’ campaign by clothing India’s workforce.

Entry in India
In November 2014, Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Company launched operations in India through an exclusive licensing agreement with I D Overseas Private Limited. This agreement authorises the use of Dickies’ brand portfolio in the design, manufacturing, marketing and scale of licensed products in India. Having analysed the Indian market for three years, the brand perceived a notable shift in the workwear needs in the country. They saw a huge need and demand for quality workwear in India. The Indian industries are growing multifold across verticals – automobiles, oil and gas, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals. However, there was no single solution provider who can meet such a vast demand with consistent quality. Nor is there any single player in the industry who can comprehend the needs of the industry and that of the region and match it to the facilities available internationally. That is what Dickies is bringing to the table.

How is the international workwear market developing and what is Dickies’ market share globally?
Karthikeya R Reddy (KRR): Workwear has been traditionally associated with uniforms, particularly the single-coloured ones. However, with rapid globalisation and more attention on safety standards in the work place, as well as on branding, more companies across sectors are realising the need for workwear. The new workwear trends have added a fashion element to it, its transitioning from traditional designs to youthful designs made from functional textiles.

Specialists employed in manufacturing and unified areas, such as automobile, oil and gas, construction, hospitality and pharmacy are becoming increasingly aware of the occupational hazards and dangers. Accordingly, the organisations are building up a protected work space for the workers. Vendor organisations are obliged to meet global safety norms as recommended by buyer necessities. This combined with the need to build a strong corporate identity, has expanded the need for essential and protective workwear.

Tell us about the global market share of Dickies.
KRR: Today, a powerful combination of global retail stores and e-commerce platforms connect with consumers to address local market needs. Dickies brand is present on almost every continent. Major locations include the USA, Canada, Japan, UK and Europe. The brand operates over 400 stores globally (including those operated by Dickies licensees) to address the diverse market needs of all consumers. With direct presence in every market we enter, Williamson-Dickie invests locally to tailor products to specific market requirements. We arrive at deeper understanding of market needs through direct involvement with end users and our licensees. This is a unique and powerful competitive advantage for our commercial activities.

Internationally, how does Dickies position and differentiate itself from its competitors in the workwear segment?
KRR: Dickies is globally known for tough, durable and performance clothing. It is our legacy and commitment. The brand is loved across the world and is known for its unmatched value, unsurpassed quality, uncomplicated style, no-nonsense attitude, and independent spirit.

We are one of the largest manufacturers of workwear in the world. We provide consistent quality. We provide a vast range of workwear, suited to various industries. Our understanding goes beyond just the industry. We understand how the industries are perceived in different geographical regions and how workwear should be adaptive to the location.

In India, the workwear industry is highly disorganised. There are no established large format players who can provide quality clothing to the growing industries. There are no companies that can help large format companies establish their branding and provide safety clothing consistently.

What are your observations on the workwear market in India?
KRR: India is witnessing tremendous growth in manufacturing and service sectors, with more investment coming in from international platforms. We believe that this would translate to a bigger demand for quality workwear and performance clothing in these sectors. The key industries for workwear in India have traditionally been healthcare, hospitality and manufacturing. However, lately there has been an increase in use of uniforms in the organised retail, logistics, facility management, security and other sectors. The Indian workwear segment is currently estimated at approximately Rs. 6,300 crore, and is expected to grow by 15 percent annually by the year 2020.

The current medical and healthcare workwear industry is valued at Rs. 135 crore, and is growing at 20 percent annually. The economic growth in India during recent years has brought about a ‘health transition’ in terms of shifting demographics, socio-economic transformations and changes in disease patterns, making healthcare one of the largest and fastest growing services sectors in India.

Hospitals are bringing their brands to life. ‘Patient Experience’ is the top priority of healthcare organisations, where providing medical services is not enough to engage customers. India has also emerged as a preferred destination for medical tourism owing to its cost advantage and explosive growth of private hospitals, equipped with latest technology and skilled professionals.

Increase in standardisation in both process and structure has led to the introduction of workwear in the industry. Corporatisation of the healthcare industry, particularly hospitals, has led to increasing use of uniforms across hospitals in the private sector. The Indian school uniform market is highly fragmented due to the nature of the demand with every school prescribing their own set of uniform. There is a huge domination of unorganised players, hence with offers an opportunity for the organised players with sophisticated technology and the ability to consolidate the market by tying up with large school chains and effective inventory management for smaller schools.

What are the challenges that you faced while establishing your brand in India and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge in India is creating awareness about the quality of workwear that is required. Most international companies are aware of the need for quality workwear. However, Indian companies are yet to completely transition from the smaller companies, who are not entirely capable of meeting the need for quality workwear.

Workwear is a wide subject. What are the different product categories that you operate in and which of these are you offering in India right now?
KRR: Dickies India will primarily focus on workwear and performancewear. We will be bringing the complete range of workwear and uniform solutions for healthcare, hospitality, schoolwear, industrial and also fire division. Dickies India is known worldwide for the quality workwear products and we hope to establish the same in India as well. We will be also launching our most popular work pants and shirts known globally for their best fit and performance.

What are the key bestsellers in your product portfolio category-wise?
Recognised globally for its value, quality, style, attitude and spirit, Dickies is an iconic American brand. Built upon a legacy of innovation and leadership, the Dickies portfolio of products is quite broad. It ranges from our iconic work pant to denim, workwear, outerwear and cold weather accessories, to casual use of products for those who enjoy work-inspired apparel. Our key bestseller is our 874 work pant, which we sell for its performance, value for money, durability and easy care. Another bestseller is the ‘cool breeze chef coat’ in the hospitality category, which is one of the best models of chef coats created by Dickies.

Tell us about your manufacturing capabilities, current and future expansion plans? How much of these are made in India?
KRR: We have an in-house capacity in India to produce two million garments per month. Dickies India will manufacture most of the workwear uniforms here. Performance footwear and backpack will be imported due to manufacturing constrains in India.

Workwear is technology driven. What special technology and R&D strength does Dickies possess?
You should expect no less from the number one brand in workwear. Dickies has protected America’s workers since 1922, with quality workwear that is built with a purpose. Our flame-resistant products are carefully constructed with premium materials that meet or exceed safety standards and are designed for comfort and durability. Most Dickies FR garments are also NEPA 2112 certified to protect against hazardous conditions found on the toughest jobs. They are designed for protection and selected for comfort.

In the industrial sector we use durable, long-lasting and rugged fabrics which stand up to work, wear and tear. All products are mostly fade resistant and maintain colour. Generally, the products possess stain release and wrinkle resistance for easy care and all day comfort for indoor and outdoor work.

Tell us about your distribution and retailing strategy for India.
We will primarily focus on workwear business in India as a business-to-business (B2B) model. As an individual worker buying workwear for his safety is not a culture in India, we would be looking at building a B2B customer base through which we will build up a distribution and sales agent network across India. We will be focusing primarily on south India for the first phase and then expand to have pan India presence.

With rapid industrialisation, would you say that the consumption of workwear mainly exists in tier-I cities in India?
This situation has enormously changed than how it was five years ago. There is a vast demand and need in all cities, be it tier-I, -II or -III. Tier-II cities like Ahmedabad, Surat, Indore, etc. have rapid industrialisation. The key manufacturing plants are located in cities like these. So the demand definitely exists. The key point here, however, is in these cities, the industry is dominated by unorganised local players with smaller capacities. It will take time for the companies to realise the need for quality, safety clothing and make the shift to a large-format provider. There is a great rate of awareness of the need. Industries in these cities are getting more and more particular about choosing the right quality of workwear for their staff with the rise in importance of a healthy and safe workwear.

How important are the fashion and aesthetics aspects in workwear?
The entire domestic fashion and lifestyle clothing industry has evolved to a different level over the past decade. In the past, we had textiles and tailoring practice in India. With multi-dimensional retail taking over the traditional individual training concept, the scene has transformed to create various local and national brands as well as allowed the entry of international players. We think the workwear and uniform market will take the same shape over the next 10 years with demand for higher quality, performance and service.

Dickies’ story, significant milestones and its global presence
On March 11, 1922, Charles Nathan Williamson, C Don Williamson and Colonel E E Dickie purchased the US Overall Company of Fort Worth. Two days later, they changed the name to Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Company and started the world’s top brand of professional quality workwear. While Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Company started with only 35 people in a frame building on Boaz Street (Fort Worth), within a few years they had more than 400 employees and by 1926 the Dickies brand name became the company’s registered trademark. Realising the great appeal of their durable, high-quality, low-cost clothing, in 1930, Williamson and Colonel Dickie reinvested their own salaries helping the company add another 250 workers by 1933. By 1935, it became the first garment plant in the southwest to use a straight-line method of manufacturing. However, while experiencing great success and first in the industry, C Don Williamson also wanted to ensure Dickies was providing customer what they needed. In the 40’s, Dickies became the first major apparel company to use consumer research, from which many of Dickies best-known inventions have emerged over the years. A survey of range cowboys proved the jeans they were wearing were not cutting it because the forward-facing side seams would sometimes catch on the brush and yank them off their horses. The feedback Dickies received led to their development of back-facing side seams, which is a denim industry standard today.

During WW-II, Dickies manufactured over 9 million US Army uniforms. The standardised look remained popular in peacetime, too, and the US$ 6.20 Dickies khaki work set became the unofficial uniform for working men across America. From 1947-49, Dickies continued to lead the industry unveiling ‘Wear-N-Forced’ fabric to hold a crease longer and eliminate baggy knees; zippers in workpants; and then patented the first permanent press, ‘Shape Set,’ a revolutionary new no-iron process. By the 50’s, Dickies made its mark through celebrity endorsements, such as Henry Fonda in ‘The Grapes of Wrath,’ Frank Sinatra in ‘From Here to Eternity,’ Humphrey Bogart in ‘To Have and Have Not’ and Life magazine ads.For decades, Dickies has remained a trendsetter and innovator in professional workwear. The 1960s had Pat Boone in Dickies slim US$ 7.98 British Tab slacks; 70’s college students favoured US$ 10.96 chartreuse bibs and US$ 5.97 bellbottom jeans; and by the 80’s, US$ 14.99 Dickies painter pants and US$ 19.99 cotton denim jackets were the rage.

In the 1980s, Dickies outgrew its headquarters and renovated the historic 108-year-old Stephen F Austin school house for its new world headquarters in Fort Worth, and almost on-cue, a whole new wave of Dickies fans and loyalists sprung to the scene. Suddenly, stars in the surf and skate movement, major musicians, celebrities and a new generation of fashion icons began to embrace the brand, and as the popularity of workwear exploded onto the world scene, Dickies became not only a global brand, but a complete lifestyle brand known for its durability and comfort as well as its signature look and style. These days, it is just as likely that a major rap or TV star doing a photo shoot is wearing Dickies as it is that an electrical lineman or construction worker is using them for their own line of work. Dickies’ professional quality workwear is still made for hardworking men and women in more than 60 countries, and remains an authentic, affordable, high-quality American brand that appeals to those who appreciate no-nonsense clothing.

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What is Dickies brand known for? ›

Established in 1922 in Fort Worth, Texas, a city and state known for its grit, Dickies® has always been known for its no-nonsense approach to functional workwear. The story of the legendary brand begins in 1918, when founding business partners C.N.

Is Dickies an American brand? ›

While we're now the number one work apparel manufacturer worldwide, we're not all that different from when we began. We still make bib overalls. We're still a Texas company. We still embody that spirit of the American worker.

What happened to Dickies brand? ›

VF Corporation acquired Williamson-Dickie in 2017 for $820 million in cash.

How did Dickies become popular? ›

The brand first started gaining notoriety during World War II, when it began producing military uniforms. After the war, Dickies expanded its geographical reach by opening up production facilities and warehouses all over the United States.

What are the Dickies everyone is wearing? ›

But after going viral in 2021 on TikTok, they've found a new, younger, fashion-savvy audience. The Dickies 874 pants have fast become a wardrobe staple for a new generation. The trend, tracing back, was kicked off by Madison Beer, who posted an image on her Instagram with the waistband of her 874s folded.

When did Dickies get popular? ›

The popularity of Dickies by the late 90s was immense the brand was now not just about workwear they now had real pull in the fashion world also. Many of Dickies products were featured in glossy magazines showcasing this authentic brand in all its glory.

Who started the Dickies trend? ›

Arguably, the 874 trend can be traced back to when music artist and social media star Madison Beer posted a photo of her wearing the trousers on Instagram in April 2021. Dickies said it did not seed the item. But the post inspired a raft of replicas.

Does anyone wear Dickies anymore? ›

Cloth dickeys are also often used in marching band uniforms. Hard plastic dickeys have long since gone out of manufacture and fashion, but cloth turtleneck-style dickeys are still sometimes seen.

Are Walmart Dickies the same? ›

A: Dickies is the original brand of product line from Dickies. Genuine Dickies is a separate and cheaper line of Dickies products that is offered mostly by Walmart, Target and other large retailers. Hope this helps.

What kind of brand is Dickies? ›

Dickies®, the global leader in performance workwear, has provided hard-wearing, long-lasting and comfortable clothes since 1922. Starting with the bib overalls, we've grown from work pants and work shirts to offer a full line of pants, shirts, jeans, outerwear, scrubs, tactical and mechanic uniforms.

Why did Dickies go out of business? ›

However, current US parent company, VF Corporation, based in Denver, Colorado, undertook a review of the setup and decided the workwear arm's business model was out of line with its financial expectations, however, it will continue to sell the Dickies Streetwear line.

What does Dickies mean? ›

Definition of 'dickies'

1. a woman's false blouse front, worn to fill in the neck of a jacket or low-cut dress. 2. a man's false shirt front, esp one worn with full evening dress.

Why do people like Dickies? ›

Comfort, style and durability are the main reasons why our riders choose Dickies. They simply want something durable that allows them to land their tricks and move freely without sacrificing style, be it on street, tranny or any other terrain conditions.

Are Dickies back in style? ›

Thanks to TikTok, the nostalgic '90s brand Dickies has gotten a second lease to the fashion scene. In the past, the brand was sported by celebrities like Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner, but when users on TikTok started wearing workwear pants with the waistband folded over, a viral moment was born.

What are Dickies pants meant for? ›

Dickies began creating workwear for hard-working women that needed durable clothing in the 1940s. The women's pants were, and still are, designed to fit the female form, with functionality and versatility in mind.

Can big people wear Dickies? ›

Dickies has become the global leader in performance workwear, delivering clothes for workers everywhere for over 100 years. The quality and craftsmanship of each piece is what Dickies stands for: to be the best work apparel for men, women and children of all shapes and sizes.

How do you wash Dickies pants? ›

If you machine wash your trousers, make sure you do so on a low temperature and gentle spin cycle. Cold water ensures the material of the work trouser does not get damaged or shrink, and the slower spin cycle goes easy on the worn down sections of the trouser, not making them bigger or worse.

Do Dickies run big or small? ›

How Does Dickies Clothing Fit? Fit: For the most part, Dickies does fit true to size. Dickies do say that if you are between sizes, go for the bigger size, and it's worth remembering that the trouser styles don't have a lot of stretch in them.

Which Dickies are the most popular? ›

The Dickies Work Pant remains one of our our best selling items for good reason. They are built to last, have a timeless aesthetic and their prices are unbeatable.

What is the most expensive Dickies in the world? ›

Ranging in price from $985 to $7,410 USD, the Gucci x Dickies collaboration is available now, from their webstore.

Why do Mexicans wear Dickies? ›

Dickies and Towncraft were both popular among Sureños, or Southern Californian Mexican American gangs, at least in L.A. It began with the Pachuco influence, adopted from a uniform of T-shirts and khakis derived from prison uniforms.

Is Dickies only for men? ›

Dickies Online Exclusive Clothing for Men & Women | Dickies.

Did Wrangler buy out Dickies? ›

Fort Worth-based Dickies Sold to VF Corp., Parent Company of Wrangler and Lee Jeans for $820 Million.

Are Dickies made in China? ›

The manufacturer has a worldwide presence of 7,000 employees, and its Dickies operations include facilities in Mexico, Japan, China, the Middle East, and Netherlands.

Are Dickies and Carhartt competitors? ›

As the name implies, Dickies' Loose Fit Double Work Pants fit loosely. But, they aren't as exaggerated as their competitor's — aka Carhartt's pant.

How can you tell real Dickies? ›

Authenticity Statement

Authentic Dickies brand merchandise is available only through authorized licensees, distributors and retailers. The only way to know you are getting the authentic Dickies brand fit, features, quality and guarantee is to purchase only authentic Dickies brand merchandise.

What other brands are like Dickies? ›

The Best Brands Like Carhartt
  • Dickies.
  • Levi's.
  • Duluth Trading Company.
  • L.L. Bean.
  • Filson.
  • The North Face.
  • Columbia.
  • Helly Hansen.
May 24, 2022

What sites are like Dickies? ›

The other five competitors in the top 10 list are levi.com (12.8M visits in March 2023), vans.com (8.2M visits in March 2023), pacsun.com (7.4M visits in March 2023), urbanoutfitters.com (13.0M visits in March 2023), and bendavis.com (223.5K visits in March 2023).

Is Dickies a premium brand? ›

But what's especially interesting is in how Dickies has entirely repositioned itself as being both blue collar streetwear staple and veritable luxury label.

Who buys Dickies? ›

VF Corp (VFC) has finally broken its acquisition dry spell. The company, whose brands include Vans, The North Face and Timberland, said on Monday it is buying the maker of Dickies hospital scrubs and Kodiak boots for $820 million, its first major acquisition since its transformative deal for Timberland six years ago.

What does 874 mean in Dickies? ›

The 874 (Original Fit) The 873 (Slim Straight Fit) The 872 (Slim Fit) The 803 (Slim Skinny Fit, which is now discontinued by Dickies)

Why do mechanics wear Dickies? ›

Comfortable and Durable

Hence, Dickies make sure that the pants are soft and soothing while executing them. The durability of the fabric forms the core while manufacturing the work pants for mechanics.

Is Dickies a hipster? ›

Dickies, which traditionally sells strictly utilitarian workwear pants, are suddenly cool among the hipster hordes and worn without a hint of irony in the coolest precincts of gentrified Brooklyn. The trademark Original 874 Work Pants are crisp-looking, sturdy as hell and available at K-Mart for less than $40.

Why are Dickies uncomfortable? ›

This stiffness is due to the chemical residue from the manufacturing process and the fabric's bonding properties. Here's how to break in Dickies pants, Carhartt cotton pants, jeans, and sturdy canvas work pants to make them as soft as your older pants.

Can you wear Dickies casually? ›

Whether you are wearing the slim fit, skinny fit, or regular Dickies work pants, to give them a more casual look, you'll want to pair them with a T-shirt. If you are looking for an incredibly relaxed look, then keeping your shirt untucked is advised.

Do Dickies get more comfortable? ›

Can Dickies pants be softened by wearing them? Wearing Dickies work pants will break down the stiffness over time, especially if you're active. However, giving them a machine wash with fabric conditioner then tumble drying with a softening sheet will get the job done sooner.

Why do rappers wear Dickies? ›

It stems from the 80s and 90s when many rappers had previously also been pimps. If a pimp was arrested at the time, money that they had on them would be confiscated as a product of crime but their jewellery would not be.

What are the famous Dickies? ›

The 874 Original Work Pant is arguably our most iconic product. When people talk about 'Dickies pants', nine times out of ten, it's the 874 they're referring to. The style has been a firm favourite for over 50 years due to its superior comfort, durability and versatility.

Why are Dickies so baggy? ›

It's a myth that all Dickies styles are baggy. The collection became a little roomier and when Dickies transitioned from solely providing industrial workwear to branching out into streetwear style in the 70s and 80s. At the time, loose-fitting was typical street style, and it just stuck.

Do Dickies work pants run small? ›

How Does Dickies Clothing Fit? Fit: For the most part, Dickies does fit true to size. Dickies do say that if you are between sizes, go for the bigger size, and it's worth remembering that the trouser styles don't have a lot of stretch in them.

Where are Dickies clothes made? ›

Yes, some Dickies are still made in Texas, but the vast majority are made in Mexico, Asia and the Middle East. (For more on that, with some personal stories of a few international workers who make Dickies, there's this wonderfully informative piece on Racked.)


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