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Seattle Pendleton: Celebrating Northwest Style

Pendleton style endures because Pendleton products endure.

Presented by Pendleton Woolen Mills June 24, 2022

What is Northwest style? It might be difficult to define, but it’s easy to recognize: style-conscious clothes in natural fibers, in colors inspired by Nature herself. The other key component is layering. With days that start in the 40s and end in the 80s, layers are key. Add to that a regional focus on sustainability and slow fashion, and the answer is Pendleton Woolen Mills, a company that has been providing classic Northwest style for over a century.

This renowned brand began weaving colorful wool blankets in 1909 in a Pendleton, Oregon mill, which gave the company its name. Pendleton expanded into plaid men’s wool shirts in 1924 and launched its first full women’s collection in 1949. The company made its name with quality wool fabrics woven in the USA, and that has never wavered. The company’s two facilities in Pendleton, Oregon, and Washougal, Washington, are among a handful of working woolen mills left in the US. The stripes and plaids for Pendleton’s wool apparel are “Woven in Washington” at the Washougal mill. 

If only one garment could be associated with the Northwest, it would be the plaid flannel shirt. Pendleton’s Umatilla wool plaids are recognizable at a glance. An early advertising poster claimed, “A man never has enough Pendletons,” and decades have proven this claim true. The fan base is diverse. These distinctive shirts have been favorites of loggers, merchant seamen, surfers, hikers and bikers. 

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The Pendleton plaid shirt has many fans, but its association with music is undeniable. The Beach Boys (originally named The Pendletones) started it by wearing their plaid shirts on the cover of “Surfer Girl.” The trend has continued through Folk, Grunge, Americana, and contemporary Country.  There is a Pendleton plaid for everyone, but for those who really want surf style, the company offers that Original Surf Plaid as worn by the boys who sang “Endless Summer” in the early sixties.

Pendleton made another lasting contribution to pop culture with the Westerley cardigan sweater, as worn by The Dude in “The Big Lebowski.” After the movie attained cult-classic status, sweater seekers contacted the company, hoping for a reissue. The sweater was brought back by fan demand and remains one of Pendleton’s best sellers.  At Lebowski events, the old sweaters mingle with the new, impossible to distinguish thanks to Pendleton’s insistence on incorporating every single detail of the original. New colorways are added every year, but the style remains true to the Original Westerley.

Pendleton style endures because Pendleton products endure. Sustainability is more than just a word for the company, which is in the process of earning OEKO-Tex certification to officially certify that Pendleton’s fabrics are made without harm to the environment. The mills have always minimized waste in every way possible, and Pendleton finds innovative ways to use scraps and trimmings, including making them available to artists and crafters. Wool is a naturally renewable crop, and wool garments and blankets are crafted to last for generations.

Pendleton was “Born in Oregon” and its Pacific Northwest roots run deep. The company maintains retail stores across the country, with flagship stores in Oregon and Washington. Pendleton has maintained a store in Seattle since 2016. Recently, the company moved its downtown Seattle store to a new location near Pike Place Market. The new store will join a recently opened location in the Seattle Premium Outlets and a Kirkland location at the Village at Totem Lake. Pendleton’s Head of Stores, Christina Wander, said, “Our corporate headquarters are in Portland, and we see Seattle as our slightly more sophisticated sister city. Seattle is a wonderful place to share the Pendleton experience.”

The Grand Opening of our new downtown location is July 28. Come and see us at 117 Pine St., Seattle

 

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