Johnny Vulkan: Awakening Carhartt’s Branded Utility In Detroit

Workshops give people new skills and open up new possibilities in a city bursting with potential, but currently lacking in jobs and funding.

Several years ago PSFK.com wrote the first articles on Branded Utility, a phrase coined over drinks one evening as we looked for a deeper role for client marketing budgets and a way for those dollars to create something fundamentally useful. We’ve seen many examples since then but this weekend we (Anomaly) just did something with a client that we’re all immensely proud of and excited by for its potential.


Carhartt, the Detroit based work wear company produces much loved apparel for workers across America. Their hard wearing clothing enjoys fanatical loyalty especially at a time when work clothes that will last that little bit longer becomes increasingly important. This is isn’t about fashion, this is about function. Agriculture, construction and the workshop floor is where these clothes see out their days and it’s a marketplace too infrequently traveled by the latest marketing thinking.

We’re setting out to change that. Working with Skillshare – the wonderfully generous vision of Michael Karnjanaprakorn –  we’ve just run our first round of Carhartt Workshops to give people new skills and open up new possibilities in a city bursting with potential, but currently lacking in jobs and funding. This weekend’s free classes covered urban gardening, building with reclaimed materials and the importance and power of urban art in the community. The next classes will run on the 27th and you can sign up here www.skillshare.com/carhartt. 

For Carhartt, it is the company living up to their work ethic and mantra of ‘Carhartt works for you’. They’re helping create and support their market by rolling up their sleeves and helping to build what’s next. For Detroit its engaging the men and women who are giving energy to make things of value. It’s the concept of building and creating what will hopefully become the next powerful chapter in Detroit’s journey.

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