Alan Wright talks about his origins in streetwear, his love for Carhartt, and brand loyalty.

This is D3 The Concrete, bringing you fashion from the street!

Alan Wright is one of my favorite guys on the internet. The first time I cyber-met (I gotta copyright that…) Alan was through a post that I made of some Carhartt duck-cloth pants that I found while thrift store shopping in Houston. He liked my picture and from then on, we kept following each other.

While I do consider Carhartt as one of my Top 3 brands (Polo/Ralph Lauren & Undefeated being the other two), I think that Alan has always taken to another level in a great way! When I started writing for Day & A Dream, I had a short list of people that I knew I wanted to interview. Alan was on that list.

Check out the interview and, as always, comment below and tell us what you think about Carhartt: How long have your pieces lasted? Is Carhartt > Dickies? Will Carhartt WIP open a store in the States (besides the one in New York)?

(Writer’s Note: All Photos Provided Courtesy of Alan Wright)

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Tell us who you are and where you are from.

My name is Alan Wright and I am originally from a small town south west of Glasgow in Scotland, called Kilmarnock. Now I live in Orlando, Florida, with my wife and her dog, as I take no responsibility for him. He’s a Boston Terrier and a pain in the ass. I am a retail manager for Converse and I have been with the brand for 5 years – 2 years in Scotland with Nike and 3 years in Florida with Converse. I have worked in retail for almost 20 years now!

How did you get into streetwear?

Growing up I was a sports mad child. I was always active, playing basketball, soccer, doing martial arts like karate and aikido, playing table tennis and really any sport that I came across. When I got into my late teens, I got into skating, but had no ability for it whatsoever so I only lasted a week or two. I loved the style of clothes and it introduced me to more than just athletic wear or what is termed “sportswear” now.

My day to day style did change around my late teens from Nike and Jordan apparel to all the 90’s skate brands; Blind, Think, World Industries and my personal favorite at the time Alien Workshop. That influence of skate style was combined with Army/Navy store finds and then I graduated to my first introduction to streetwear and vintage stores when I was 18 and 19. The iconic Glasgow retailer, Dr. Jives, was at the heart of this initial education. I had no idea really at the time but so many of the brands which they carried would become legends in the streetwear scene: Stussy, X-Large and Hysteric Glamour.

What were some of your favorite brands growing up?

Stussy was the biggest brand for me growing up. The graphics and skate/surfer aesthetic was huge. X-Large was another one which I wore often, in part due to the Beastie Boys connection. Nike and Converse footwear played a key role too and my love for basketball made Nike and Jordan very important to me, now more in the style than the performance aspect.

Around the same time, I started my retail career at a vintage spot called Flip, which imported an array of American vintage clothing to the store in Scotland. The mixture of skate styles, vintage pieces, military inspired items and those key streetwear brands really set the tone for my style and the way I expressed myself to this day.

Why Carhartt?

I came across INC jackets during the first year or so working at Flip. The branding was simple, the fabric was so rugged and durable and perfect for the Scottish weather. I was always fascinated by the USA; from the hip hop, jazz and blues music that I listened to, my love of basketball and the movies I watched. The fact it was from America just made it even better.

As I moved from the vintage store to streetwear boutiques and skate stores, I came across WIP, when it was still developing its identity in the U.K and Europe, and I just liked it from day one. The price point was always affordable and it just wears so well and last so long. I have a camo backpack from around 2001 which has traveled all over the world and still looks brand new.

WIP was carried in many stores but was just another brand back in early 2000, not like the streetwear juggernaut that it is now. The more it developed, the more I admired and enjoyed the clothes and accessories (I love accessories, especially bags and hats). Their relationship with music and art and skateboarding only cemented my love for WIP.

My IG handle is CarharttAL23, which really stems from a nickname which friends and colleagues gave me. When new deliveries would come in, I would open the boxes and gaze at the product, as if discovering some mythical and marvelous object. WIP became a trademark and it really became the only brand I would be shopping for when I stopped by local stores – hence the name Carhartt Al!

Another reason I was attracted to Carhartt, especially INC, was that it was very masculine and rugged. I am small and though I have worn a beard for most of my life, much to my mother’s annoyance (all of the men in her life wore beards – my brother and I and my father, but she never really cared for beards), I am not the stereotypical, masculine man. It doesn’t bother me now specifically, but when you are a young man finding your way, being more masculine, or stronger or more rugged was perhaps something I striven for. I’ve struggled with depression and clothing has always played a huge role in my life and in many ways it was my armor.

Carhartt’s heavy duck canvas and rigid denim styles really fit the bill. If it is good enough for the hip hop icons the Beastie Boys and the WU TANG, who I listened to as a kid and so admired and still listen to in my car now, to the American drug dealers who also made Carhartt jackets famous, for all the wrong reasons – it is good enough for me. I truly love that the brands connect so many people from all over the world and from all different races, cultures and styles: American men working on railway lines and farms to skate kids and geeks to hipsters. Both INC and WIP are so important to so many people. It is a community – it is the duck canvas that brings us all together!

How much of a challenge is it to blend Carhartt with other pieces in your wardrobe?

To be honest I wear very few brands now, especially when it comes to apparel. Carhartt INC and WIP makes up 90-95% of my day to day wardrobe. Through the years, Carhartt sat well next to other brands, but in the last 5 to 10 years, I rarely buy anything else. A social media friend has a brand called COS/Children of the Sun with fantastic styling and branding focused around Native American heritage which I love and I have a handful of his tees. I still have a few Stussy tees hanging around and then I have some other tees, mostly gifts from family members. I am very loyal, as a friend and as a consumer.

I pretty much just wear Converse or Nike sneakers and Carhartt apparel. I even got married in Carhartt WIP – Dark green Sid pants. WIP really fits along any other brand and style very comfortable. INC can be more challenging without just looking like you just came off the night shift at the power plant. I like to blend WIP and INC together and most of the pieces I am drawn to are the classic items, like pocket tees/K87s and graphic tees, double knee pants, ripstop cotton over shirts – mission shirts being a personal fave of mine, with 4 different camo options in regular rotation. I wear camo pretty much every day and it has become almost as much of a trademark as Carhartt is.

What rare / hard to find pieces do you have in your Carhartt / WIP collection?

This week I just picked up INC overalls in white, from the 100 Year Anniversary collection, which if you know your Carhartt history, means it came out around 1989! Lot of paint and some stains but virtually no damage or signs of wear and they fit perfectly. I have 2 tees from the Zurich store opening exclusive drop which was gifted to me by the store manager. I also have the store exclusive tee from the recent Madrid store, which I got through a friend of a friend on social media, which was an amazing surprise.

About 5 years ago, I was able to grab the Important from INC Detroit Chore coat from the old downtown store in Chicago – it is a classic black duck canvas with black buttons and black branding and the liner is a street map of Detroit city. They only made 200 and it is crazy and I also have 2 of the watch beanies to match! It was sent from the store in Chicago to my lady at the time in Boston to my home in Scotland. I got a comment one day after posting it proudly on IG, asking me where I got it and when I explained the story, the guy said “that was me, I sent it!!!” He is a fireman now but it such a funny coincidence.

I love social media for connecting people from all over the globe. One of my prized WIP pieces is from the collaboration with Burton, the well-known Vermont snowboarding company. It is beautiful. Amazing chestnut coloured fully Gore-tex shell with lined pockets, cord collar and detachable hood. It is not super rare but I have only seen one or two people ever wearing it. I remember my dad being a little upset when splitting the purchase as my Christmas gift, but when he saw my face when I opened it, he knew it was worth it. I was in my early 30’s at the time and it was like getting a red BMX as a 10 year old. So excited! During my second trip to the USA when I was working in Vermont, I went with the family I was staying with, who were huge snowboard fans, to the Burton HQ and flagship store. It was a great experience.

Most of the rarest items in my collection are custom 1 of 1 accessories which I have had made by Eric Patton, who is a phenomenal guy based out of Ohio. I have one tote, one sample hip pack and I am waiting on a custom backpack made out of vintage overalls which just didn’t fit me. I saw a couple of clips on his IG story and I can’t wait to have it in person. One of the weirdest items I have in my collection is Carharttopoly/Carhartt Monopoly, which I picked up in Dedham, Massachusetts around 2012, when I was living and working north of Boston. I wished I had bought a couple of the game. One to play and one for the vault. The final honorable mention goes to my pair of Chuck Taylor 70s from the collaboration with WIP. They were a gift from the owners of WIP and working for Converse and being such an avid fan of Carhartt, these are just a perfect sneaker. Chuck 70s are my personal fav style from Converse and then it being wrapped in the iconic Hamilton Brown, just makes it the perfect pair.

Throughout the years, especially with the reach of social media, I have been very fortunate to receive gifts from both edges of the Carhartt sword. It still blows my mind when I connect with people from the brand and when pieces arrive, it is still is so unbelievable to me. Another reason I am so passionate about the brand is the people; the staff and managers in London where I used to buy most of my stuff, when I was living in Scotland; the owners of WIP Edwin and Salomee; the designers that I have connected with online and retail managers for INC; the customer service people at INC; other collectors and fans of the brand. All of these people play a huge part in why I love the brand, why I wear the brand and why both brands have such a key role in their marketplaces and in my wardrobe.

What practical advice do you have for young people who are seeking to be collectors?

Buy what you like. Don’t go on trends or fashion or what others like or what big collaborations are getting buzz on social media. If you like it, but it. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. The pieces and collections which I have bought over the years are because they have a connection to me and what I love: from fabric and colour to graphics and prints. I love camo and basketball and music and simple branding. So I have a collection which reflects that and reflects me as a person.

The current climate of buying the latest collaboration with Patta, or PACCBET or Converse, then to resell it for your own profit is not something I like or appreciate. My advice would be to be honest in your love of a brand or style or designer, whomever or whatever that might be. Be genuine in your collecting. Collect Carhartt because it means something to you as an individual. Never expect anything and be a positive influence in the community.

Humanity is quick to criticize or chastise and try and look better by putting others down. You may not agree with how someone has styled a piece but that is the point, that is the joy and that is why it is loved by so many different people, as they are connected to it for their own reasons and they wear in a style which means something to them. The people I have met and the key pieces which I own, go hand in hand. Without making friends with some incredible vintage people in Orlando, I wouldn’t own 30 year old overalls. It is the relationships which I have developed with people connected directly and those not connected to the brand which have helped me find and create certain pieces, which mean just as much, if not more than the pieces themselves.

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