Much of what we consider classically American among clothing has a decidedly foreign origin. Brogues from England. Tweed and tartan from Scotland. Icelandic sweaters. The Weejun, with its antecedents among 19th century Norwegian fishermen.
Take India, for example. Seersucker and madras each derive from western appropriation of local Indian cloth. And they are today firmly ensconced in the Parnassus of the American look.
Ditto the humble pajama.
The pajama also hearkens to Britain’s colonial exploits in India. Originally an outfit worn by Muslim Indians, pajamas were heartily embraced by the colonial interlopers. Many returned from the British Indian Empire with their pajamas in tow, adopting them for sleep and loungewear.
So warmly embraced was the pajama that, by the early 20th century, it had rendered the nightshirt, the gown-like predecessor to the pajama, almost completely defunct.
Looking for a set of American made pajamas, I came upon Bedhead Pajamas, a Los Angeles based enterprise. Bedhead Pajamas are the brainchild of one Renee Claire, a native of Ontario, Canada. After college graduation, she bundled up her life and decamped to Los Angeles, eager to ply her trade as a dress designer. However, things eventually took a different turn. According to the Bedhead website:
In the late 90’s public interest in dresses declined and was replaced by sportswear and as Renee was delivering what she considered to possibly be her last collection of dresses to a local retailer, she saw a pair of pajamas in the window of the boutique and thought, “I could top that!”
That eureka moment was the seed that grew to become Bedhead Pajamas.
I recently purchased some Bedhead pajamas in cranberry with white piping. And they are a magnificent product. The cotton is much more substantial than my Derrick Rose PJs. The fit is spot-on. (Of note, I hover somewhere between a medium and a large in ready-to-wear clothing, so a large can often be tent-like on me, while a medium can be a tad snug. I ordered my pajamas in medium. So, if you’re deciding between two sizes, I suggest going with the smaller of the two.)
The only black mark on the register of my approbation is the waist. The website says these pajamas have a drawstring waist (which I prefer). Some of their items are shown as having an elastic waist. But these have both elastic and drawstring, which to me falls in the neither-fish-nor-fowl category.