The last few years have seen an increase in large, well-appointed and sophisticated four-wheel drive pick-up trucks on the nation’s roads. Contrary to perceived wisdom they are not driven by selfish, power crazed and environmentally ignorant middle-class mothers on the school run. Instead it is the country’s builders and onsite engineers, plumbers, painters and decorators bidding to shed their dirty, paint-covered images in favour of a modern designer look.
Indeed, the growth in demand for these sophisticated work vehicles has spawned a growth in designer tools and clothing for the construction industry.
"I used to have a Toyota pickup. It was white and beaten up, had vinyl seats and didn’t really like cold weather. All the lads took the Mickey so I got a Mitsubishi Shogun Elegance," said Gordon Billingsworth, a bricklayer from Chatham. "Of course, now I have to bring two sets of overalls and a change of shoes. I don’t want any dirt on the carpets. And I never park it on site anymore, far too muddy."
This was just the start he says, now Gordon, and several of his workmates can be seen on building sites sporting shiny chrome trowels from Yves Saint Lauren hanging on their ‘Rocha. John Rocha’ leather tool belts.
"I feel much more empowered now," explained Gordon. "More confident as a craftsman. I don’t dress for the other builders, I dress for myself and my own self esteem."
There has always been fierce competition in the building trade, and Gordon says that this is showing in how the men present themselves.
"Oh, definitely. I know I was gutted when one of the lads came to work in a new pair of steel toe capped boots by Jimmy Choo," he said. "If I am honest, that was the reason I spent £800 on the Louis Vuitton Hod."
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