WORKIN’ IN WORKWEAR
Jim Landwehr is the classic American workman. You know the type, the fella you see in old black and white photos circa 1942 with good looks and workwear clothing, looking like something out of an old Life magazine. We first stumbled upon Jim on Instagram. His profile name is “workin_in_workwear” and what we uncovered was a gem of incredible images of Jim in repro style workwear. The portraits are strong unto themselves. However, our favorites are the images of Jim hard at work, putting his clothing hard to work! He dutifully reports back to his followers on the strength and cut of these classic style garments. And, occasionally, he gives us a lovely glimpse into his personal life with his beautiful and very stylish wife, Tamara, in Pennsylvania. Jim graciously shared his images with Ponyboy, as well as answering some questions for our readers. Photos courtesy of Jim Landwehr.
PONYBOY: Jim, tell our readers about your background. Where were you raised?
JIM LANDWEHR: I was born and raised in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I’ve lived in a few different places in the country, but I always come home.
PONYBOY: When did you start getting into vintage clothing and the lifestyle?
JIM LANDWEHR: I got into the clothes in the early nineties. I was the only one into that stuff in my school. I drove a ’56 Chrysler that I got out of a junkyard, so for me the clothes came after the cars.
PONYBOY: You are a carpenter by trade?
JIM LANDWEHR: Yes, carpentry is my current profession. However, beforehand, I was a hot rod and custom car builder for fifteen years. I then owned a cabinet and wood finishing shop. Now, I do high-end construction and consider myself to be very blessed to have good hands. I don’t always know what I’m going to do next, but I know it will be okay.
PONYBOY: How did you meet your beautiful wife, Tamara?
JIM LANDWEHR: We met in a bar called The Blue Comet. We were both out with other people. I saw her from across the room and I was floored. I’d never seen anything like her before. I’ve been chasing her ever since!
PONYBOY: You have two children? And, recently you were wed in Las Vegas over the Viva Las Vegas rockabilly weekender?
JIM LANDWEHR: Yes, we have two very different, very wonderful sons named Noam and Ignacio. Tamara had never been to Las Vegas, so when we decided to get hitched we picked Vegas. We went during the weekender, but didn’t spend much time there.
PONYBOY: Your instagram account “workin_in_workwear” has taken off since you started it a year ago. You write reviews on workwear, with terrific photos of you in the workwear, actually working. What brought this whole, unique idea about?
JIM LANDWEHR: I am just a regular working stiff. I, like a lot of other guys, am working my job and buying this type of clothing. I recall being out with my son on the weekends and being worried about getting a RRL jacket dirty while playing. That’s when it occurred to me that it was silly to treat these clothes with kid gloves. In fact, for as much as they cost, modern reproduction workwear type clothing should hold up to everyday use, as well as the abuse on the job site.
PONYBOY: What clothing brands do you favor, as far as design and sturdy construction?
JIM LANDWEHR: I’ve tried a lot of different clothing from the bigger corporate companies, and they do a great job. But, it seems that the best workwear being produced at the moment are from the smaller “Made in the USA” companies like Red White Blue CO., W.H. Ranch Dungarees and Circle A brand.
PONYBOY: Do clothing companies send you product to wear and review?
JIM LANDWEHR: With the exception of a few things, I actually buy all the clothes I review myself. This helps me stay objective.
PONYBOY: What happens if you don’t like what a company might send you as a product to review?
JIM LANDWEHR: The closest I’ve come to this was with Wolverine 1000 mile boots. They did not hold up well at all. When I contacted the company, they weren’t very helpful at all. It seemed that they just didn’t really care and were passing off low-quality products, trading on a name that was synonymous with very durable boots, yet charging a premium for them. Thus, they received a bad review.
PONYBOY: The workwear trend has been going strong for a few years now. What are your thoughts on this movement? It seems that many men are just into the look of it, like a fashion statement, accompanied by pompadours, beards and tattoos.
JIM LANDWEHR: I’m glad that people are into it, as it’s really just like anything else. I, personally, was way into fifties stuff years ago. However, workwear clothing seems to blend in a bit more than pink and purple shirts. And, it’s rougher around the edges. I hope that guys are heading more into the direction of workwear. As far as the fashion aspect of it, I’m just fine with folks buying whatever they are into. I guess I’m actually more of the exception to the rule. These clothes are very expensive. As much as I would like to see more working guys dressing well and caring about the history of this specific type of clothing, it’s definitely targeted towards men with higher-paying jobs. And the working stiffs, much like myself, who save up to buy workwear, can’t afford a closet full of clothing that they can wreck on a job site.
PONYBOY: You and Tamara also have a bowtie line?
JIM LANDWEHR: Well, Tamara has a line of really cool bowties in what would be considered work clothing type fabrics. I basically just help her out when she gets too busy, but it’s really all her.
PONYBOY: Tamara had cancer a few years back. This was obviously devastating news to you and your family. How did you and your children cope with something so traumatic?
JIM LANDWEHR: I lost my mom to cancer a few years back. And, even though I was an adult, it was very tough. I can’t imagine my kids having to deal with that. So, we were all in on getting her well. We’re all still dealing with the sacrifices we made to make sure she was okay. Tamara is now cancer-free and we’re all doing better than ever. She stays home and takes care of our boys and makes sure that we all live a little healthier.
PONYBOY: Lastly, what are your hopes and aspirations for the future, in regards to “workin_in_workwear”?
JIM LANDWEHR: If I could accomplish one thing it would be to improve the functionality of this type of clothing. So often I find that the product I review is just a stylized shadow of what it’s based on. I get that these companies need to sell to a broader audience. However, the things that bother me, probably bother anyone who is doing more in their clothing than standing with their arms at their sides.