MILAN — An historic American brand is making a comeback, with a Made in Italy heart.
Guided by a passion for U.S. labels, a group of fashion experts — Tommaso Rossi, Alberto Raengo and Chicco Barina — have decided to relaunch Washington Dee-Cee by transforming it into a cool women’s label.
Established in Nashville, Tenn., in 1922, Washington Dee-Cee for more than 50 years offered comfortable and durable denim for cowboys and farmers.
“Washington Dee-Cee has been an authentic cult brand for decades but in the ’70s it started disappearing from the radar,” said Barina, who is also behind the relaunch of North American heritage footwear brand Autry. “I think its heritage is incredible and fascinating and that’s the reason why we decided to invest in its relaunch.”
But instead of sticking to the original formula, the Italian entrepreneurs decided to give Washington Dee-Cee a new, more urban and cool attitude, focusing on a women’s offering.
As Barina explained, overalls have always been Washington Dee-Cee’s cult piece. “The overalls were born as a men’s workwear style, but during the world wars they were adopted by women who had to replace men in the factories and in the fields,” the designer said. “Now more than ever, overalls are a must-have piece in women’s wardrobes, as both a quotidian style and an elegant item…see Ricky Lauren’s look, for example.”
Rossi, Raengo and Barina, with the collaboration of Veneto-based company Doro Group — and leveraging the cool factor of the style, as well as the current popularity of the ranch wear look, boosted by the success of the TV series “Yellowstone” starring Kevin Costner — have revamped Washington Dee-Cee for fall 2021. The result is a women’s premium denim collection inspired by the world of ranches and rodeos.
Barina said he looked at the western styles sported by Marilyn Monroe in the classic movie “The Misfits” for the mannish silhouettes of the overalls and the straight-leg jeans, designed with high waists and maxi back pockets.
“We stayed away from stretch fabrics and we focused on Italian sustainable robust denim with soft textures,” said Barina, adding that washes are essential to the heritage vibe and to convey a lived-in effect.
Linking the collection to the tradition of the brand, all the labels and pocket details feature three-needle stitching, as well as the original hardware’s aged brass color and the tobacco and washed yellow stitching.
Jeans and overalls retail from 240 euros to 390 euros, and the lineup is completed by a range of pieces that span from suede fringed jackets and blazers to a studded suede rodeo shirt and an embroidered shearling coat. “The world of rodeo is super eccentric,” said Barina, referring to the garments’ flamboyant decorations, including colorful flowers, cacti and flying saucers.
The collection, which was sold by Milan-based showroom 247, will make its debut in a selection of European stores including Antonia in Milan; Anita Haas in Hamburg, Germany, and Allan Joseph in Marseille, France, among others.