As a native Michigander, I sometimes take umbrage at the short shrift my state gets in popular culture. People don’t realize we have the best backcountry skiing in the Midwest, a world-class mountain biking course, and winter waves so fearsome that only the hardiest (or foolhardiest) surfers dare try it. Hell, people don’t even realize we have two peninsulas half the time, let alone that it’s spanned by a bridge whose architectural beauty rivals that of the Golden Gate.
Instead, when people think of Michigan, they think of industry. Cadillacs and Fords sliding off the assembly line, or carts of copper ore being lifted out of the ground, or 1000-foot freighters steaming through the frigid expanse of Lake Superior. One industry they don’t think of is the fashion industry. Which is a real mistake, especially in these days when workwear and fashion are so — forgive the pun — hand in glove.
Thanks to its industrial past, Michigan is home to some deeply rooted heritage clothing brands, and three of them are coming together in a new collaboration among Wolverine Boots, Stormy Kromer, and Detroit Denim Co.
We caught up with Wolverine designer Rea Verburg to get the details on how these three legendary Michigan apparel makers came together.
The Manual: How did this collaboration come about?
Rea Verburg: This collaboration is a celebration of two Michigan brands that we love. In addition, they share our commitment to craftsmanship and exceptional materials. Our Michigan tour, from the Upper Peninsula to the east and west side of the state, showcases one of the many things that we love about Michigan: authentic, high-quality brands with products that we wear ourselves. While Stormy Kromer and Detroit Denim may be smaller than Wolverine, we’re drawn to their passion and unique story.
TM: What elements in each of these collaborating brands (Detroit Denim Co. and Stormy Kromer) made it a good pairing with a Wolverine boot?
RV: Stormy Kromer has an authentic heritage similar to ours. They were founded in the early 1900’s, we were founded in 1883! We wanted to showcase their beautiful plaid designs, integrating their wool into the tongue and lining of the. Detroit Denim is a newer brand, but they share our value of homegrown Michigan craftsmanship and we loved being able to collaborate with the east side of the state. Their deep, rich selvage denim pairs perfectly with our boots, and we wanted to develop the perfect color to elevate the indigo hues in their products. We developed a bright orange leather from Horween which we both loved instantly, and excitingly it’s a color we’ve never done before for 1000 Mile. Together, Stormy Kromer and Detroit Denim understand the importance of USA-built construction and supporting our local workforce which aligns with our 1000 Mile footwear stance. We love partnering with companies and brands who support the same people we do.
TM: Wolverine started as a workwear company and has since branched into outdoor gear and streetwear. How would you define Wolverine’s legacy today, and how do you see this collaboration adding to it?
RV: As we continue to expand our brand offerings and collaborations, we are always mindful of keeping our workwear heritage integrated into every detail. Wolverine supports those who forge their own path and are building our future and we will never lose that part of our purpose. Keeping a portion of our products made in the USA is the backbone of what 1000 Mile stands for and will continue to be an authentic part of our brand. Collaborations like this with Detroit Denim and Stormy Kromer allow us to reach a new consumer and further expand our audience. It allows us to showcase other brands that we love while still providing the consumer with a fantastic, eye-catching product.
TM: Define Detroit fashion. What drives it? What sets it apart from fashion coming out of other parts of the country?
RV: Detroit is authentically itself. It is a timeless city, and while it has been through its own share of ups and downs, it is incredibly resilient. Detroit natives are effortlessly true to who they are. Their fashion and style is not necessarily swayed by trends; rather, it’s a classic style inspired by the genuineness of the city. There are a lot of innovative, entrepreneurial people and designers in Detroit and that is reflected in their fashion. We wanted to make sure we captured the essence of this with Detroit Denim, as it’s very much a part of Michigan heritage.
TM: Detroit has been through a lot in the past several decades. How can Detroit’s fashion industry be a part of revitalizing the city?
RV: The people of Detroit are proud to be from there, and there is a sense of camaraderie between the entrepreneurs in the city. As we see companies like Detroit Denim continue to rise up, it will continue to bring in more startups, but also fashion startups. Detroit is an epicenter for local, luxury products (i.e. Shinola) and they’re able to build on the rich heritage and pride of the city. The foundation that they have built through their many industries is something that they are proud to expand and build on. There are excitement and buzz due to the growth and expansion of the city. People are investing in Detroit in a variety of industries, including fashion, which has been amazing to witness and organically become involved in.
We can say from experience that Wolverine 1000 Mile boots live up to their name. No matter how rough you are on your feet, these boots retain their rugged integrity while getting softer and more supple with age.features a bright orange Horween Essex leather upper, a natural tongue and backstay to bring out the signature accent stitching found in Detroit Denim, making these the perfect boots to wear with a pair of high-quality handmade jeans. features classic and versatile rust Horween Chromexcel leather with iconic Stormy Kromer cotton flannel plaid on the tongue and lining of the boot, ideal for wintry weather.
Personally, I couldn’t be happier to see this iconic Michigan brands getting the attention they deserve. But then again, these boots are limited edition. You know what, forget everything I said. Michigan is lame. Nothing to see here—move along.
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