Up here in Wisconsin you can’t play with the winter gear. Try and be too cute with it, you might fuck around and get frostbit. Homeless run the risk of dying due to the weather alone. I’m still slaving away at this job through the cold months too so I know wussup when it comes to brands you can trust. Businesses actually manufacture clothes here too, unlike most coastal companies, who provide the national driving force behind obtaining sweatshop labor from overseas.
Duluth Trading Company is upper echelon. All of these companies are but this place out of southcentral Wisconsin not only has a wide range of products but they also experiment with fashion and different materials as well. It can be entertaining looking through their catalog. I just bought a couple pair of awesome socks from them for this winter. You need to check out merino wool! I’d never heard of this fine type of wool until I looked into top quality under layers. Apparently it’s the best thing for active people in the cold months because it’s super warm, light weight, breathable, sweat wicking, and smell resistant.
Lands’ End, founded in Chicago but relocated to Dodgeville, WI, is one of the most affordable name brand outdoor apparel companies. If you’re looking for something like Eddie Bauer or L.L Bean, Patagonia or North Face, but want to spend a lot less, go with Land’s End.
Wigwam is a well known sock brand located in Sheboygan, Wisconsin with over 100 years of history of fashion and athletic performance success. They had to lay off 85% of their employees due to COVID-19, and many speculated that they would be closing altogether, but they opened a new store in April of this year.
Michigan has plenty to offer for our brutal 4 month winters too. Carhartt has to be the most famous. It is actually an outdoor brand for working folks and recreationists too, as well as hipsters. If you have spent any time in this area, outside, you’ve probably seen someone wearing a Carhartt jacket or hat. Farmers and outdoorsmen popularized the uniquely brown colored, durable and warm cotton duck style jackets to the point they’ll drag you for wearing a knockoff or being a working class poser. Now, they’re ingrained in ashy and lotion handed urban styles as well.
Oh ya need to have yer go to boots, dontcha know. Plenty options in part of the country. Not talking bout cowboys, though. Wolverine and Merrell both come from Michigan. Thorogood was founded in Milwaukee by and moved to Merrill, WI. LaCrosse was relocated from LaCrosse, WI but they’re still known for making a quality pair of boots. I’m particular now days about what I spend my dollars on in the protective footwear department. Depends what you’re looking for. I need the steeltoe, fireproof, waterproof, slip resistant, odor resistant, insulated, arch support and teflon built into the sole kind.
High Sierra is popular for their backpacks. I’ve never had one but the Illinois company must be doing a decent enough job with how many I see around my neck of the woods. A key factor when choosing a backpack around here: survivability across the highly variable, elemental seasons.
Lee is originally from Kansas. Had me a few trusty pairs of jeans from them. I still fuck with the straight cuts. They’re along the lines of Wrangler and Levi’s. Oshkosh B’Gosh is out of Oshkosh – a nationally recognized name for kids clothing. You can count on it being quality at some point if it was good enough for the Midwest.
Then there’s the department stores that sell, sometimes, more affordable clothing. You can’t count on it being manufactured around here necessarily but ya gotta do what ya gotta do. We had Shopko out of Green Bay until they closed. That was like a step up from Walmart as my mom used to say. There’s Kohl’s from Milwaukee – another price and/or quality tier higher as she would say. Menards is out of Eau Claire and they have great working and outdoor gear. Farm & Fleet and Fleet Farm are both out of Wisconsin and cover a lot of folks in the same way. And then there’s Target, from Minnesota, though that’s a bit more expensive and catered to the metrosexual lifestyle.