After writing about Lee’s Union-Alls the other day, my thoughts naturally turned to Carhartt’s coveralls, the archaeologist’s cold-weather friend.
The Carhartt company, coincidentally, was founded the same year as the H.D. Lee Company, 1889, when Hamilton Carhartt started selling bib overalls in Detroit, Michigan. Carhartt’s coveralls appeared by the World War II era, and likely earlier, but Lee’s claim to be first seems valid.
Like the original H.D. Lee company, the Carhartt company proudly proclaimed their support of Union workers. The modern Carhartt company, unlike Lee, is still a family-owned business, and about half of their workers are Union members.
The H.D. Lee Mercantile company was founded in Salinas, Kansas, in 1889, but by the early twentieth century, it was focused on making clothes and had factories in several cities, including Trenton, New Jersey. Lee Union-Alls, a jumpsuit for mechanics and other blue-collar workers, were created in 1913 and became their signature product. The name touted the fact that they were union-made.