In the United States, Carhartt is known for its work clothes, such as jackets, coats, overalls, coveralls, vests, shirts, jeans, dungarees and fire resistant clothing.
Carhartt was founded in Detroit, Michigan to make work clothing for railroad workers. Their initial growth throughout the 1890s was focused on railroad workers' need for durable and long lasting work overalls. Over time, Carhartt clothing items evolved trademark features intended to further extend durability, including the use of heavy duty threads, reinforcing rivets at vital stress points, and a variety of durable, high technology materials resistant to flames, abrasion and water. Today, Carhartt clothing is commonly found on construction sites, farms and ranches, among other job sites.
In 2007, the company launched a Carhartt for Women line of women's workwear for the fall season.
In the United States, Carhartt sponsors blue-collar organizations and events such as the National FFA Organization, and rodeos.
During the 9/11 World Trade Center rescue operations, the Carhartt company donated thousands of bib overalls to the rescue crew to be used on scene.
Due to competition from other apparel manufacturers and pressure to drive down prices, many of Carhartt's non-core apparel items have been increasingly outsourced abroad. Some countries where outsourcing is and has been done are: Honduras, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, China, and the Philippines.
In 1997, Carhartt built their first facility in Pénjamo, state of Guanajuato, Mexico, and in December 2001 they opened a second plant about 30 miles away, in the city of Irapuato. In 2003, they purchased two additional facilities from the Labor Board of the state of Durango in an auction (these facilities had been owned by CHIC by HIS and had been abandoned). Carhartt now operates a total of 4 facilities in two Mexican states. Two sewing plants (with a cutting facility in Pénjamo) are located in the central part of Mexico and a sewing/cutting facility along with a laundry/finishing/distribution center in the city of Durango. They operate these plants with over 2,000 Mexican employees.
Carhartt continues to own and operate unionized, sewing and distribution centers in the United States and Mexico, and offers a "Union-Made in USA" line of workwear through its retailers, but items like T-shirts, knit caps (and even some lower priced items such as chore coats) have been increasingly seen with labels from a foreign country, though most feature American-made fabrics and components. Carhartt has stated that its international suppliers must have Worldwide Responsible Apparel Production certification. All of Carhartt's Mexican plants were required to meet Worldwide Responsible Apparel Production (WRAP) certification.
Carhartt EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) was formed in 2006 to provide workwear to the European market.
In Canada, the main retailer of Carhartt is Mark's Work Wearhouse (L'Équipeur in Québec).
The Carhartt Work In Progress (WIP) line is the streetwear version of the brand, often marketed as comparable to Stussy or Supreme (clothing). In Japan, it is a streetbrand that often collaborates with other streetwear brands. An example would be the line of A Bathing Ape X Carhartt WIP camouflage hoodies and jackets. The WIP license supports affinity groups such as artists, musicians and skateboarders.
2013 collaborations also include lines from Adam Kimmel x Carhartt, as well as collections through the A.P.C. x Carhartt line. Both collections used fashion designers, Adam Kimmel and Jean Touitou.
Tommy Boy Records has used Carhartt jackets as a promotional tool.
In the 1990s, Carhartt jackets achieved popularity with crack dealers. "They needed to keep warm and they needed to carry a lot of stuff," said Steven J. Rapiel, the New York City salesman for Carhartt. "Then the kids saw these guys on the street, and it became the hip thing to wear."
Main characters of Interstellar movie wear Carhartt jackets.
Also, Carhartt is a favored brand of Leroy Jethro Gibbs (played by Mark Harmon) on NCIS. He has worn numerous different style jackets, hats, and shirts by the brand.
In an interview by Deezer, Tyler Joseph of Twenty One Pilots wears a Carhartt beanie.