In September, Odin’s East Village offshoot store, Den, showcased Engineered Garments’ fall collection, accenting Mr. Suzuki’s designs with bags and blankets by little-known American work-wear and outdoor brands like Estex and Duluth Pack.
“At the moment, the world seems to be going through a transition that might not work to everyone’s advantage,” the Japanese-born Mr. Suzuki put it delicately in an e-mail, “and because of these trying times, people gravitate to more authentic, tried and true ideas.”
For Michael Williams, 29, a partner at a marketing firm who lives in Manhattan but grew up in Cleveland, this kind of clothing represents a return to his Rust Belt roots. “For a long time, guys just wanted to be like the rock star or the CEO,” said Mr. Williams, who (like seemingly almost everyone) blogs about style on the side. “I think that on a larger scale this signals that people are interested in being middle class again … you know, just wanting to have a nice home in a good neighborhood.”
Of course, most of today’s work-wear-inspired clothing doesn’t exactly come at middle-class prices. A Woolrich Woolen Mills Buffalo plaid button down (one of Odin’s hot sellers) that Mr. McEntee showed The Observer was $179. (A similar shirt at J. Crew’s new men’s boutique in Tribeca was priced at a slightly more modest $98.) At Barneys, a simple cotton chambray work shirt by Engineered Garments goes for $180, and the label’s black cotton trouser is priced at $240. Flannel shirts by Gilded Age also are sold at upward of $200; Mr. Miljanic’s jeans will run you anywhere from $298 to $598, and his jackets from $498 to $995.
Guys like Thomas Rogers, a 24-year-old Brooklyn resident, who want blue-collar threads minus the burning holes in their wallets, go the more recession-friendly route: secondhand shopping.
Mr. Rogers, one of numerous young men spotted in a Williamsburg bar recently sporting no-frills flannel, said he’d bought the red-and-black Buffalo plaid shirt at a thrift store. The reason he approves of work wear?
“It’s one of the few acceptable ways for Williamsburg men to assert their masculinity,” he said.
—Additional reporting by Glenna Goldis
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