Ann Richardson is rarely surprised to see celebrities such as Kourtney Kardashian and Emily Ratajkowski wearing Dickies.
Richardson is Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Co.’s director of strategic initiatives. In her 40-plus years at the clothing company’s Fort Worth headquarters, she has seen fashion styles come and go. But Dickies’ reputation for durable, often loose-fitting clothes always seems to have a place among the cultural influencers.
A$AP Rocky, the rapper currently embroiled in an assault case in Sweden, was photographed earlier this year wearing Dickies 3M pants with the signature reflective road crew striping.
Dickies shirts, pants and jackets have always been popular work wear. But Richardson says it was more than 30 years ago she began noticing celebrities jumping over to the brand as well.
“We weren’t as broadly popular as we are now,” she said in a phone interview. “But then in the ‘80s, especially, we got picked up by college girls, and guys in the northeast. And we became the popular thing to wear with the hip hop and rap artists coming off the West Coast.”
“Then the skateboard crowd picked it up, because Dickies work clothes are durable,” she said. “They’re not a tight fit, so you’ve got the ability to move around and do athletic things.”
Right now, Fort Worth’s hugely popular soul singer Leon Bridges is a big fan of Dickies. At this spring’s Fortress Festival musical gathering in Fort Worth’s cultural district, Bridges hung out at the Dickies table and mingled with fans.
Dickies got its start in Fort Worth in 1922. Richardson, who said she started working at the company after graduating from Texas Christian University with a degree in merchandising, oversees the company’s 1922 line of clothing.
The 1922 line is made of up clothing that is made in America — at the company’s South Texas plant in Uvalde — so it sells at a premium price and is only available at selected retail locations.
VF Corporation bought Dickies in 2017. The corporation, which announced last year it was moving its headquarters from Greensboro, N.C. to Denver, Co., owns many other well-recognized brands in the fashion realm, including The North Face, Timberland and Vans.
The popularity of Dickies extends overseas, too. In South Africa, the work wear has been popular in the 1990s, and a company store was recently opened at a Johannesburg mall.
Fort Worth’s 14,000-seat venue, Dickies Arena, is scheduled to open this fall. Buying the naming rights to that venue ensures the brand will stay top of mind in the music and entertainment world, Richardson said.
“Dickies is just very authentic,” she said. “It’s not like we get out there and pretend to be something we’re not.”