Classic Patterns: The Pendleton Story

Words by Matthew Vanatta

For over 100 years Pendleton has been dedicated to crafting the highest quality and classically styled woven goods available. With the company’s origins starting as early as 1863, when Weaver and English immigrant Thomas L. Kay bought a wool mill in Salem, Oregon, the legacy of an iconic American brand would start in the heart of the Pacific Northwest.

In 1909 the family moved their operations to the small mill town of Pendleton, Oregon, cementing its legacy as a premier wool manufacturer and legacy brand. There is something truly Americana about Pendleton products. From the quality to the timeless design, the brand has stood steadfast to their ethos of creating the very highest quality wool goods in the world.

The foundation of Pendleton is deeply rooted in their blankets, which became world renowned and were a celebrated piece of Native American heritage. The blankets were rooted in Native culture and were used in ceremony and for trade. Pendleton went to great lengths to understand tribal patterns and customs, sending designers to the individual tribes they produced blankets for so they could engrain every blanket with the appropriate tribal patterns and colors.

Pendleton moved beyond blankets and started to manufacture their heavily sought out wool clothing and workwear as early as 1912, when the company bought a second mill dedicated to manufacturing clothing directly across the river from Portland, Oregon, in Washougal, Washington. Workwear at the time was mostly dull and uninspired, but Pendleton changed that, becoming immediately recognized for incorporating the same bright colors and bold patterns that made their blankets so iconic.

By World War II Pendleton was allocating most of its production resources to outfitting American soldiers. However, post-war Pendelton was once again manufacturing time-tested icons as well as innovating their line. The biggest innovation was the addition of women’s wear, including sportswear and wool skirts, which were popular at the time.

Pendleton’s status as a heritage brand continued to build and by the 1960’s they were a staple in modern culture. One of the most iconic bands of all time, The Beach Boys, was originally named The Pendletons, a direct nod to the cultural status that the brand had accumulated.

Since its inception, Pendleton has continued to build on its legacy as a brand that is dedicated to crafting the highest quality clothing, blankets, and accessories. This can be seen in the dedication of brand loyalist and the popularity of the brands vintage pieces hold with collectors. Pendleton continues to innovate without deviating from its original mission. It is one of the true American icons and its storied product continues to be an essential part of the American landscape.

Today Pendleton continues to be a leader in craftsmanship and style. This can be seen in their continued dedication to the tribal communities they have worked with in the past and in their emerging lines like their Dry Goods Collection. The Pendleton Dry Goods Collection is built upon the heritage of their iconic quality, but with an updated and modern profile. The Dry Goods Collection offers a range of timeless pieces that are perfect for both creative and adventurous lifestyles.

We are honored to carry both a curated selection of vintage Pendleton Goods and The Dry Goods Collection this fall, as there is nothing that will keep you warm and dry like Pendleton wool.

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