A year or so ago, select items manufactured by a mysterious clothing label named Earl's Apparel began to infiltrate the shelves of trend-setting shops with an American-made focus, including Hickoree's in Brooklyn and Independence in Chicago. The clothes were durable takes on wardrobe staples – garments perfectly designed to take a beating.
Turns out that the company, operating out of the small town of Crockett, Texas, has been making durable, well-priced workwear for a few decades under the Stan Ray and Gung Ho labels. Stan Ray makes workwear for stylish painters and plumbers, while Gung Ho is known for its expedition gear, which looks jungle-ready. This makes Earl's, as the umbrella organization, a sort of strange, surprisingly high-quality off-brand version of Carhartt.
Names aside, the clothes are great, especially the Gung Ho Camp Trouser, which is constructed from 12-ounce cotton duck with deep fatigue-style front pockets and two button-down back pockets. The cut is more relaxed than the slim-fitting, dressier chino options out there, so these are great for non-office work and outdoor play. Play mostly. At no-frills retail sites like America's Virtual General Store, you can pick up a pair in olive drab, khaki, or classic duck brown for $39. This isn't fancy stuff, and these pants don't call attention to themselves, but they can take a beating, get up, and take another one; they're as rugged and mysterious as that guy Earl who makes them. [$39, AmericasVirtualGeneralStore.com]