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What are Dickies?

By Donna Reynolds
Updated May 17, 2024
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Dickies is the trade name for a line of durable men’s and women’s work clothing that includes pants, shirts, jackets, coveralls, overalls, boots, vests, shorts, and sweatshirts. Dickies clothing is usually made of heavy, durable cotton, but in recent years, the company has expanded, now offering school uniforms and a new line of clothing designed for the medical profession. The company, which is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, is considered to be the largest manufacturer of work clothing in the world.

In 1918, C. N. Williamson and E. E. “Colonel” Dickie became partners in the US Overall Company based in Bryan, Texas. In 1922, C. Don Williamson, C. N.’s son, bought the company, which was renamed the Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Company. Like many companies, Williamson-Dickie experienced a slowdown in business in the 1930s, but in the early 1940s, they received a lucrative contract from the US government to manufacturer uniforms for the military. This contract boosted profits, and once the war was over, the company had the capital to expand the business and open additional manufacturing facilities.

By the 1950s, interest in Dickies clothing had begun to spread outside of the United States. Middle Eastern oilmen noticed the durability of the clothing worn by visiting oilmen from Texas, and overseas demand for Dickies created an additional opportunity for the company to expand. Today, Williamson-Dickie operates in Israel, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. In the late 1950s, Dickies began their European operations.

While Williamson-Dickie is still known primarily for their work clothing, Dickies found an entirely new market when, in the late 1990s, skateboarders discovered the durability and comfort of this familiar brand. In fact, the company now sells a line of clothing called Dickies Girl for young women that combines a slim look with the company’s traditional long-wearing and durable fabrics. Performers such as Madonna and Avril Lavigne have worn Dickies clothing onstage, and the brand has also been “discovered” by Hollywood. Billy Bob Thornton and Tim McGraw wore Dickies in Friday Night Lights, and the brand has also been featured in such films as The Dukes of Hazard, Jump Shot, Talladega Nights, and Charlotte’s Web.

In 2005, Williamson-Dickie sponsored the first Dickies 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The company also sponsors an annual Worker of the Year contest, awarding the winner a weekend in Nashville and a new Dodge Ram pick-up truck. Williamson-Dickie continues to expand. The company has a strong presence on the Internet, offering a special business-to-business website as well as online retailers such as Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and JC Penney.

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