If you’ve heard of the American brand Carhartt, Japanese-based Workman has a nearly identical company history. It goes like this: reliable provider of blue collar apparel suddenly jumps into the public spotlight, and within a few years, is transformed into an uber-trendy brand beloved by the young, famous, and influential. Even though Workman carries mostly menswear, women across Japan are snatching up gender-neutral pieces to complete the oversized, comfortable looks that are so popular in 2020. If you search #ワークマン女子 on Instagram or Twitter, you’ll be sure to find plenty of pictures of young women snuggled into puffy down jackets, fleece pullovers, and heavy, rubber-toed boots.
When you step into Workman- which has 839 stores across Japan and is expanding by the month- you’ll be greeted by racks stuffed with mostly outerwear. Their jackets have the heft and clean stitching of what appears to be a well-made product. Everything is sturdy, warm, and utilitarian, while managing to avoid the frumpy trap. Workman carries size ranging from S-LL, but as most things fit loosely, you won’t have to worry about the usual fit problems that plague foreigners. Many items are also fully water-proof, which makes them a good option for skiers and snowboarders.
The best part of Workman has to be the unbeatable prices. After a careful look through the store’s inventory, I found that the average Workman item retails from ¥1000-4000, including a wide variety of down jackets around the ¥3000 yen mark. Compared to rival brand Uniqlo, which sells similar products for around ¥5000, Workman seems to be edging out the competition on both cost and durability.
I was impressed with the wide range of inner wear, which includes Heat-Tech-esque lines of undershirts, though slightly disappointed that there wasn’t much of a women’s legging option. I happily stocked up on a pair of merino socks, which are the best for keeping my always-numb-with-cold toes nice and toasty.
The cold winter months in Japan can be pretty brutal. Workman is surely the place to go if you need comfy and functional items fit for braving the long walk to the train station, hitting the slopes, or simply cuddling up in your under-insulated Japanese apartment.