Subcultures collide on URI’s campus with students adopting style trends from construction workers’ unofficial uniform: Carhartt hats and Timberland work boots.

URI is no stranger to construction work, and with the new engineering building and dorm hall being built this past semester, an abundance of construction workers have been present on campus. While these construction workers have been helping URI’s campus become more developed for better learning environments, it is still unconfirmed if they are also helping  influence student’s fashion choices.

The construction worker uniform is synonymous with wearing chunky mustard yellow durable work boots, often by the brand Timberland, grey sweatshirts, jeans, and Carhartt beanies. This durable workwear and outdoor apparel has been adopted by outside work crews for as long as I can remember and I never once thought that they were style icons. I guess I was wrong. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to tell who is a frat brother, a skater boy, an art student, who fishes for a living, or if someone drives a forklift during the day.  

While the majority of the people that I have seen on campus wearing this look are guys, there are also a few girls who have embraced this new style. A sophomore student, Emily Waldman, has been wearing what I had deemed the “construction workers uniform” since she began high school, before the style began trending throughout campus. “I don’t have Timberlands because those are hella expensive, so I bought boots exactly like them but from another brand that were much less expensive because mama likes deals and mama doesn’t care about name brand boots,” Waldman said. “They make me feel like I’m not a basic bitch because I feel like the only girls that buy Timberlands are the girls that want to look cool, but I buy my boots because I feel like they compliment my style and are just me doing me.”

Christie Swanson, a sophomore majoring in fashion, agreed that more guys on campus have developed this outdoorsy winter worker style than girls. “I always picture lumberjacks wearing them,” said Swanson. “I feel like Timberlands are equivalent to UGGs for girls,” Waldman said.

Personally, I completely understand buying Carhartt hats based on their affordability and Timberland’s for their durability, especially for those who live with wild New England weather. However, I am curious if people are picking up this new style based on the practicality or if it is solely based off of aesthetics and trends.

While my opinions are still forming around how I feel about this new style, I do know that I admire anyone who begins adopting pieces into their personal aesthetic and style on unique borders and am curious to see how this new style develops and how long it lasts – although as Swanson stated quoting Heidi Klum’s catch phrase from Project Runway, “In fashion, one day you’re in, and the next day you’re out.”