Applying technical designs to classic American workwear pieces, snowboard-leaning technical apparel label 686 and iconic Texas-based heritage brand Dickies have collaborated on a brand new collection of apparel. The beginning of what will be at least a three-year partnership, the 686 x Dickies collection for Fall/Winter 2012 is set for a global launch this month and is now arriving at select stockists around the world. Here, 686 creative director Mike West and Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Company creative director Kathy RisCassi shed light on the beginnings of the partnership, inspiration for the unique designs, and the process of collaboration from conceptualization to final production.
How did the Dickies x 686 partnership come about?
Mike West: Coming up skateboarding and growing up in Los Angeles, Dickies has always been a part of my upbringing. I’ve always had a mutual respect towards their heritage products. Everything they make is designed with a purpose. For the past 20 years, 686 has shared this same philosophy in producing technically advanced winter garments that keep you warm and dry. I felt like it was a perfect match to do something special together.
Kathy RisCassi: Dickies is a brand that has been hijacked by subcultures for years. The brand is rich with heritage which is inspirational. We believe workers are athletes and the collaboration just made sense.
Where do the design ideas and inspiration come from for the collection?
M: The Dickies brand is the originator of American workwear since 1922. We took a lot of inspiration from classic styles like the infamous 874 twill pant and double knee work pant and tried to stay true to classic Dickies construction details like their belt loops and fly enclosure. Because winter weather conditions can be unpredictable, I wanted to bring a High Vis story into the mix as well as make it fun. We developed a Safety Jacket that has all the same ANSI-approved high vis color fabrications and made it rugged enough to hold its own in foul weather conditions, yet stylish enough to hit the bars after you’re off the hill.
K: We held an editor event in NYC where we had the collaboration product next to our regular workwear. You definitely saw the connection. Down to the smallest of details such as trims and linings. Mike spent time in our archives to really understand our brand.
How does the process of the collaboration work, from concepts to actual garments and production?
M: 686 has been involved with collaborative projects with a handful of premiere global brands for the past decade. Throughout this process we’ve learned that it works best when both parties really take time to do things together. For this project, I was stoked that Kathy and her design team were just as excited to be a part of doing something different as we were. Everything begins with concepts on paper. Then it gradually evolves to tech packs, fabric development, approvals from each side, wear testing for 686 waterproof and breathable regulations, developmental protos, to photo and sales samples, then finally production. In winter outerwear garments, it takes about two full years from when we start to when it actually comes out in the marketplace.
K: We are very passionate about our brand. And when we find others who respect the brand as we do, it is energizing.
How was the first year received and where is it available?
M: We’re blown away from the first season’s response. Heads liked what we did by keeping the Dickies look and feel, but flipped it with the 686 protective qualities in the winter realm. The Dickies x 686 project is a global launch and it just landed in selective stockists now.
K: It really is amazing product!