Monday, December 31, 2012

Pendleton - Authentic American Apparel

When searching for vintage, one brand I will pick up without a second thought is Pendleton.  Maybe it has something to do with my Midwestern upbringing, but I fall in love with almost everything I find by them, mostly because it involves plaid.

The history of Pendleton Woolen Mills spans over one hundred years, but is deeply rooted in one thing: the production of high quality wool garments.  The Pendleton name comes with a highly trained and meticulous attention to detail that spans from an intimate knowledge of wool fibers and production and every garment is "Warrented to be a Pendleton."

Pendleton actually started as wool blanket manufacterer in 1909, specializing in Indian tribe blankets of vivid colors and patterns.  In both World Wars, they would be used as a manufacterer for military blankets due to the quality and durrability of their products.

Nearly twenty years later, the company decided to expand their horizons with the production of clothing. After a period of trial and error with wool fibers and fabrics, the Umatilla shirting fabric was produced and turned into men's woolen shirts of different colors and patterns. With the success of the shirts, Pendleton began expanding into a full line of menswear in the late twenties that would only grow in popularity during the 50s when the "American Look" would take full reign and bring the country back to a feeling of the good life.

Womenswear would eventually be introduced with the classic look of the 49'er jacket, named after the year it was produced, and the reversible woolen skirt. Much like the menswear, the colorful dyes and interesting patterns, as well as the natural, easy-care of the wool, made the articles very popular.

The signature look of bright colors and designs of a Pendleton has also made it a part of pop culture. The Beach Boys were originally called The Pendletones and were often seen wearing the shirts at shows or on their album covers The shirts have always been popular amongst surfers, and many other sports, such as skateboarders and snowboarders, appeciate the look, as well. Levis, Adidas, Vans, and many others have collaborated with the company to produce different lines, further adding to its appeal amongst sport enthusiasts. As always, though, people just appreciate the look, comfort, and warmth of a Pendleton piece, making it accessible to all audiences.

Throughout the years, though, what really has made Pendleton a lasting name is due to their ability to change and expand with the growing needs of American fashion. From the first shirts they produced in the 1920s to the clothing they are still producing today, Pendleton has taken innovative steps to give people comfort and warmth in every season. When World War II broke out, they help production of most items to focus on producing blankets and uniforms for soldiers. When women began joining the workforce, they created a line of career clothing. They've created washable wool for easier care and expanded into lines of year-round, non-wool clothing to fit everyone's needs for every season. Like a chameleon, Pendleton has been able to warp, change, and grow with the needs of society and bring a well-crafted product to the table. For this reason, Pendleton has been able to span the decades and has celebrated over one hundred years of quality.

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