As the winter creeps in Pendleton is always sure to satisfy your thirst for those classic wintery pieces. Its Native American design is one that is iconic and recognisable throughout the world. The history of Pendleton is an interesting one, British born Thomas Kay, started Pendleton as a company in 1863, and has been managed by the same family for six generations in the Northwest Mills USA. Pendleton’s first customers were Red Indians from the Cayuse, Walla Walla and Umatilla tribes. Pendleton used designs and colours, which would appeal to their Native consumers. It played a big part in Native American culture, with Pendleton blankets becoming important gifts for births and weddings.
A nod, if not salute was given to the Hunmanitarian and Peacemaker Chief Joseph when Pendleton produced a blanket in his honour in the 1920s. It is one of the oldest, on-going blankets made by Pendleton. The design is a reflection of the great man himself, with balanced arrowheads symbolizing bravery. Chief Joseph pictured here with a serious stance in 1901, heavily wrapped in an early Pendleton blanket.
Lets not forget these are not sporadically formed patterns developed over a few weeks, they go back to over a hundred years ago. This Hacienda blanket is a great example of this, with the stripes, crosses, triangles and diamond motifs all common in early Navajo Chief blankets. Legend has it that the patterns must continue to the edge of the blanket in the belief that this would prevent evil spirits from being trapped within.
Raw wool from the United States goes through a computer-controlled system of water, dyes and heat ensuring consistency within the colours. The fibers then go through a carding process that combs and aligns them ready for spinning. They are then spun out and twisted to form yarns. High speed looms interlace these yarns into woven cloth. The wool has a unique felting property therefore controlled shrinkage is used to produce a softer more compact fabric.
Although a company that began with Native American pattern, Pendleton soon moved into men’s work shirt, in 1924 the well known Pendleton work shirt was born. The design has remained relatively the same as it did 100 years ago with only small changes such as a lining added in the yoke and collar. The Pendleton shirt also has become iconic adopted by different scenes such as the grunge scene and Los Angeles street gangs in the 1970s.
Pendleton have been an integral part of popular culture, with heavyweights such as Levis, Commes des Garcons, Nike and Vans all fighting for a piece of that Native American heritage. With the technical advances on these brands and their mainstream clout, Pendleton have ensured that they are at the forefront of popular culture today.