Pendleton Woolen Mills

If you had to pick one item of clothing to represent the United States, the Pendleton shirt would be an ideal choice. It’s as iconic an item of clothing as you’ll find. Fiercely egalitarian, it was just as likely to be found on the backs of Southern California surfers as it was to be worn by New England old money.

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Before they were the Beach Boys, they were the Pendletones.

Pendleton began in 1909, making blankets with Native American motifs. By 1924, it introduced the men’s shirt. Five years later, it was offering a full range of menswear. Women’s clothing followed in 1949.

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Slowly, however, Pendleton is succumbing to the virus of foreign production. Many items are still made in the USA, its blankets in particular. But the tartan shirts, so prized among collectors, are no longer sewn on these shores, although the fabric is still woven here.

Which is a shame.

Still, for those of us so inclined, thrift stores, resale shops and vintage boutiques are not lacking for the original made-in-the-USA¬† shirts. Over a couple of decades of collecting, I’ve picked up several, as well as a couple of jackets and a robe. I’ve passed some of these on to Andrew and Frannie.

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Andrew sporting a vintage 50s Pendleton
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Yours truly in a 1940s Pendleton

 

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