Red Kap History

Red Kap History


Established 1923 by Harlin Brothers & Williams with bib overalls.

1927 – 1929: Name changes to Red Kap, inspired by the Red Cap Smoking Tobacco.

1929: Red Kap Overalls Sell for $11.75 each – only $6 less than in 2003

1930: First manufacturing facility opens, Red Kap work shirts sell for 49 and 69 cents.

1931: Founding partner Claude Williams becomes Red Kap’s first president.

1932: A heavier winter line of cotton suede shirts are added to Red Kap’s popular basic line.

1933: Second manufacturing plant opens, producing dress shirts, in Clarksville, TN. After 10 years of business, Red Kap headquarters move to Nashville’s newest skyscraper.

1937: Red Kap’s core business is men’s and boy’s fashion for mail order and retail markets. Red Kap increases capacity while other companies cut back.

1939: Company name changes to Red Kap Garment Company

The United States Needs Unforms: Red Kap Answers the Call

1940: Red Kap answers the call for shirts, pants, field jackets and more for the US army and navy.

1941: Elkton, KY plant opens to produce gas mask carriers

1947: Red Kap first enters into rental laundry market. Company develops first laundry-friendly industrial pant

1950: Red Kap leaves retail market to focus exclusively on rental industry.

1960: Company’s first testing laboratory established

1963: Red Kap goes public with name change to Red Kap, Inc. Introduce the first laundry-friendly, durable press garments. RK launches coverall and shop coat after acquiring Covco Garment Co.

1964: Red Kap expands to markets, manufacturing, distribution and technology. White twill “zipper fly” pants replace button fly versions. Instructions included on how to use the zipper.

1965: RK’s 65% Poly 35% Cotton blends becomes the industry standard.

1966: Frank Evans becomes RK’s third president, and Jack Wyatt, RK’s second president, becomes Chairman of the board.

1970-71: RK builds new hq and central distribution center in Nashville, TN.

Computerized Distribution Revolutionizes Red Kap Delivery

1971: Computerized distribution and operating systems redefine the concept of “Fast Service.”

1973: RK meets $50 million in sales for 50th Anniversary.

1975: RK enters the women’s uniform business. RK is the first to commercialize ammonia cure process for FR cotton.

1976: Red-E-Service concept is introduced with opening of “make-up” center.

1982: Construction begins on the ROCK, the heart of the industry’s largest distribution network.

1986: RK introduces the industry’s first industrial laundry-friendly knit shirt.

1996: RK acquires Bulwark, solidifying a leadership position in FR apparel.

1999: In a single year, RK adds more products to their line than in the past 25 years.

2001: VF Workwear carries on the legacy of innovation with the introduction of Horizon Technologies.

2013: RK celebrates 90 years of quality workwear

2014: RK releases first ever Performance Shop Pant and Shorts made specifically for the automotive industry with one-of-a-kind features.