Move over Carhartt. This New Affordable Workwear Brand Is Made in California

Prices range from $16 to $60.

Scott Slusher

If you want a pair of Ryan Martin’s W.H. Ranch jeans, get in line. There’s a two-year waitlist for the $375 dungarees, which are crafted from start to finish by Martin from vintage patterns he reverse-engineered himself. To keep up with demand, Martin even launched a ready-to-wear collection utilizing a Los Angeles factory to produce jeans to exacting specifications from the 1950s — the flagship 1901 Ryder mid-rise style is much more affordable at $240.

In the spirit of affordability, Martin’s latest project leaves cowboy couture for durable workwear. His new brand — KC Jacks — offers a similar level of attention to detail without the long wait or prohibitive price tag.

The brand started when Eric Edwards, the owner of Kansas City clothing store E. Edwards Work Wear, reached out to Martin about creating a line of American-made workwear. For Martin, it was an opportunity to refine a collection of hard-wearing wardrobe essentials like t-shirts, jeans and sweatshirts. So he reached out to manufacturing partners in California and began sourcing premium domestically-woven fabrics.

KC Jacks prioritizes good-looking, functional designs. The t-shirts — which retail for $16 — are made from heavyweight Texas-cotton fabric that’s woven in L.A., and are based on the Army’s pattern. “The arms are very, very boxy, but the construction is completely military spec,” Martin says, of the classic design. So he tweaked the Army tee to have a trimmer, longer sleeve and a contoured fit (somewhere between slim and classic) with a longer body that stays tucked in.

Like the tees, KC Jacks sweatshirts are cut from heavy-knit Texas cotton. Available in a classic pullover or a zip style — of which includes a military-grade zipper from the last operating American zipper manufacturer — they’ll run you $45 and $55 respectively.

The most expensive garments are the jeans — Martin’s specialty — but they’re hardly high-priced. Two styles of work jeans are available for just $60. The silhouettes are far from baggy, but they still allow a full range of motion. Cut from 14-ounce tight-weave bull denim, they come washed once to remove any stiffness and feature vintage-inspired details like a flattering steeper-pitched back yoke and triple-stitched seams. “Those are tiny little things I obsess over,” Martin explains. “They almost look like vintage jeans without the buckle backs.”

One pair is styled like a traditional carpenter jean — with accessory pockets on both legs and a handle loop — and the other just includes one accessory pocket (sized for a cell phone). And, both pairs feature military-grade American-made zippers. According to Martin, the $60 jeans could reasonably cost closer to $250 and nobody would blink twice. “But that’s not the market we’re going for,” he says.

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