Skip to content

90 years of Shirtmaking: the Taxonomy of Pendleton Shirts

We’re celebrating nine decades! yes, that’s right. We have been making men’s wool shirts for ninety years. The Pendleton shirt story starts in 1924, when the Bishop family decided to enlarge their business from trade and bed blankets into men’s apparel.

To quote http://www.pendleton-usa.com:

In 1924, a man could have a wool shirt in any color he wanted – as long as it was grey. Wool shirts were utilitarian items; warm, durable, an excellent first line in the defense against the elements. They were uniformly drab. Of course, all that was about to change.

At Pendleton Woolen Mills, Clarence Morton Bishop envisioned a different kind of fabric for a man’s wool shirt. Pendleton’s sophisticated weaving capabilities were producing vibrant Indian trade blankets. Why not bring that same weaving and color know-how to flannel shirting?

He wrote to his father, Charles Pleasant Bishop, “I believe we should add such goods as shirts and hosiery.” C.P. Bishop agreed, replying “I am more and more impressed with the opportunity we have here in Oregon.” While his son investigated production options, C.P. Bishop did the early marketing work. He wrote to his son that “I am impressing it on the minds of my employees and patrons…that we are putting a new fabric on the market, something better than other mills can or will make.”

After much weaving experimentation and hard work, Pendleton’s innovative Umatilla shirting fabric rolled off the loom. The rich colors in Pendleton’s woolen plaid shirts were completely new to the market in 1924. The positive response was immediate. It has also been enduring.

Ninety years! To celebrate, we’ve released a poster that elaborates on the design features of our most enduring models.  Click for a larger view, though the best view is in person at one of our many retailers.

shirt-taxonomy

Here’s the styles you know and love in photos.

collage

Fall 2014 brings our Decade shirts, each made a style and fabric that represents a decade of Pendleton shirtmaking. We will be taking a closer look at those in the next few weeks. But for now, it’s kind of awesome to sit back and consider how many Pendleton wool shirts we’ve put on the backs of men over the last ninety years. Thank you for your loyalty, and here’s to the next decade!

German VOGUE–Summer 2014

We had a gorgeous feature in German VOGUE this summer. The weathered walls and dry landscape make an atmospheric backdrop for our Native American-inspired blankets. Please click for larger views!

Cover with the NIKE N7 blanket, which benefits the American Indian College Fund: Innovation meets tradition with this collaboration between Nike N7 and Pendleton Woolen Mills. For inspiration, Nike designer Derek Roberts looked to traditional Native American dress and how the patterns work together to create a garment. He started at the bottom of the blanket with a smaller pattern of arrows that repeats and grows in scale toward the center. The top is a mirror image of the bottom. Putting a unique twist on the traditional Pendleton blanket, he used only black and white instead of the usual multitude of colors. The result is a distinctive, contrast-driven look that subtly blends black and white to create varying grey tones in heathered and color-blocked designs. The center of the blanket prominently features the Nike N7 mark–three arrows pointing back to signify past generations, three arrows pointing forward to signify future generations, and arrows in the center to represent the current generation. The arrows, sometimes appearing as triangles or other shapes, convey both movement and balance. The blanket reverses for a positive/negative visual effect–with a black base on one side and white on the other.

 

The Crossroads  blanket.

The Crossroads design reflects First Nations teachings and the power of the four directions – the number “four” is sacred among many Native American tribes. East represents the physical body, the realm of the Warrior. West represents the heart and the path of the Visionary. North is the region of the mind and the wisdom of the Teacher. South represents the spirit, enlightenment and the realm of the Healer. Balance and harmony are achieved where the directions meet at the center of the Medicine Wheel. Crosses in this jacquard pattern symbolize the crossroads where the paths meet – the place where an individual becomes whole.

 

The San Miguel blanket.

A pattern inspired by mid-to-late 19th-century Native American weaving traditions and the influence of Spanish missionaries in the Southwest. The design's roots are in the traditional banded Chief Stripe pattern which evolved into a "nine-element" layout. The reversible jacquard has two dramatically different looks.

 

The Saxony Hills blanket.

The Saxony Hills Blanket references the changing landscape of Navajo weaving in the 1800s. Spanish explorers had introduced Churro sheep to the Southwest in the late 17th century. The Churro bred by the Navajo produced a somewhat coarse, long-staple wool that was hand-spun and woven into shoulder robes or blankets, shirts and sashes. Hand-spun wool from these animals was the main source of yarn for Navajo blankets until the 1860s. Then Saxony yarns arrived in the Southwest by way of the Santa Fe Trail and later the railroad. These fine 3-ply yarns spun from the wool of merino sheep were produced in Saxony, a former German state, and in England, France, and New England. By the mid-1900s, Saxony yarns were used by the Navajos for general weaving. The Saxony Hills Blanket incorporates traditional, geometric Navajo motifs—diamonds, stepped triangles and Spider Woman cross patterns.

All blankets are available at pendleton-usa.com.

POPEYE magazine–Japan’s Take on Surf Pendleton

WEB_Popeye_7_14_b

 

WEB_Popeye_7_14_a

 

As ususal with Japanese PR, we have only a vague idea of what’s been written, here. We do know these travel spreads are alive with enthusiasm and full of Pendleton. Our Reyn Spooner Kloth shirts are shown, as well as the Surf madras shirts , and towels, and muchacho blankets, and hey, that’s our CEO, Mark Korros, relaxing at the Pendleton Home Store!

Korros

Our favorite is this shot with the Original Surf Plaid Board Shirt as worn by the Beach Boys way back when.

Popeye_Board_Shirt

Thanks to POPEYE for the visit and for the press.

Blake Lively and Pendleton

blake-lively-vogue-cover-august-2014-03_170247646998

 

Blake Lively in August’s VOGUE. The blanket is our Midnight Navy Stripe in Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool.  You can see Ms. Lively’s new American lifestyle blog, Preserve, here.

 

Princess Carly in Avenue Magazine — the feature!

Since we showed you the shoot here, we thought you’d like to see Princess Carly in the finished product. The dress by Janine’s Custom Creations uses our Rock Art fabric, available here at http://www.pendleton-usa.com.

AvenueMagazine

 

We’re proud to help sponsor Carly. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter as she travels throughout Europe and Canada as an ambassador for the Calgary Stampede.

 

Wrap Up in Pendleton Spa Towels

Pendleton’s spa towels are having a field day all over Instagram.

You can see our towels on the beach:

On the water:

On the rocks:

Instagram by @wanderinlayers

On the deck:

At the river:

 @woodiftheycould

And on the dawg:

You can see our current selection of towels at www.pendleton-usa.com right here. And if you decide to join the fun on Instagram, please tag us with @pendletonwm . We’d love to see where you take Pendleton.

 

 

 

 

Blackfern Boards x Pendleton, up close

The weather is right for hitting the waves. We’re celebrating summer this year with a Blackfern collaboration; two boards that are part of our Surf Pendleton collection. So here, in their own words, are all the steps that go into making these fine boards–one at a time, all by hand.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Making the Pendleton Limited Edition Surfboard

Each Pendleton Limited Edition Surfboard is shaped, painted, glassed, sanded, and glossed by hand in Blackfern’s fabrication studio in Portland, Oregon.

Retro Styling

For the Pendleton Limited Edition Surfboard, a 1960’s era single fin model was chosen.  This timeless retro board embodies the lifestyle of the era; clean, simple, and stylish.  Many of these retro shapes are having a resurgence in popularity because of their versatility in a range of surf conditions.  The board style pays homage to an era in which Pendleton was a vibrant force in Californian surf culture.

The Process Starts

The first step in the fabrication process is to trace out the outline of the board onto a blank, which is a rough-cut piece of foam that resembles a surfboard, albeit not a very functional one.  The outline is cut out of the blank, not unlike making Christmas cookies, and the excess foam is removed.  The outline is then tuned by a rasp-like tool called a surform, in order to hone the perfect curve that will define the finished board.

From Bottom…

The next step is to craft the bottom of the board.  This process begins by power planing or “skinning” the protective outer shell of the blank that protects the softer foam within.  After the skin is removed, the bottom contours are shaped in by removing material with additional passes with the power planer, surform, and finally, sanding blocks.  The single fin model features shallow concavity through the middle of the bottom, blending into a V contoured tail.  These contours give the board a loose and nimble feel with higher performance than would be achievable with a flat bottomed board.

…To Top

At this point it is time to flip the blank over and begin working on the top of the board.  Similar to the bottom, the first step is to remove the protective skin of the blank.  During this process,  I start to flesh out the top contours and the “foil” of the board.  Foil refers to the changing thickness, both from the center towards the rails as well as from the tip to the tail of the board.  It is during this process that a shaper’s ability to visualize in three dimensions becomes crucial.  Knowing where to remove material and in what quantity can be tricky.  The goal is to produce a smoothly foiled board; maintaining volume in helpful areas and removing it where unneeded.

Forming the Rails

After the top has been shaped and foiled, its time to move onto the rails of the surfboard.  At this point the board has a functional top and bottom but with its boxy, vertical rails, it would be miserable to surf.  To form a smooth curving rail, I begin removing rail material in the form of rail “bands.”  Bands are sloped ridges that run the length of the board; thickest at the middle and thinner towards the tip and tail.  By removing rail material incrementally in these stepped ridges, it is possible to produce a rail that changes shape and thickness in a controlled and consistent fashion.  Once the bands are crafted to satisfaction, the board is turned onto its rail and I begin passing a sanding screen over the ridges of the “bands.”  After screening repeatedly, the ridges disappears and a smoothly curving rail emerges.

Finishing Foam Touches

The final steps of the shaping process are to install the slider single fin box and to finish sand the entire shaped surfboard to a buttery smooth finish.  The board is signed off to the customer who ordered it.  I write the customer’s name, the dimensions of the board, and finally “Pendleton Surf Limited Edition.”

Getting that distinctive Pendleton look

The specialized Pendleton artwork is applied before glassing the board.  The two color versions vary on their preparation.  To produce the characteristic plaid pattern, I start off by creating a series of vertical stripes that represent the four primary colors of the pattern.  I then lay out horizontal bands that cross directly over the vertical bands.  I use the same four primary colors and spray through a sanding screen, producing the blended color tones featured in the plaid print.  Finally, I add a band of dark color around the rails of the surfboard to form a frame of sorts.

For the striped version, I tape off three zones of the board; center, nose, and tail.  Within these zones, alternating colored bands of varying thicknesses are laid down to form the distinctive, classic pattern.

Onward to Glassing

Glassing is only achievable in incremental steps, similar to the process of shaping the foam of the board.  Glassing consists of four separate treatments of resin that constitute the glassing process; two laminations and two hotcoats.  A lamination is the process through which fiberglass cloth, saturated with resin, is bonded to the fragile foam core.  A hot coat is an additional layer of resin that helps protect the fiberglass cloth and completely seal the inner foam core.

Laminations

The first lamination occurs on the bottom of the surfboard.  To prepare for the lamination, the top of the board is taped and masked to avoid being exposed to resin prematurely.  A piece of fiberglass cloth is rolled out over the length of the board and is cut so that the fabric drapes over the rails, usually extending approximately 2-4 inches below the beginning of the rail.  Surf Pendleton and Blackfern decals and fin boxes are dry fitted to ensure that no mishaps occur.  The entire surface of the board is then “wetted out” with polyester laminating resin.  A squeegee is used to work the resin into the porous foam of the board and to fully saturate the fiberglass cloth.  The cloth is carefully wrapped over the rails and the board is left to harden or “cure”.

Once the bottom is cured, the board is flipped over and the same process is done to the top, this time with two layers of fiberglass cloth to add additional strength to the deck.  After wrapping the top layers of fiberglass onto the bottom of the board, the resin and fiberglass are left to cure once again.

Hotcoats

To hotcoat the board and finish glassing the board, another coat of polyester resin called sanding resin is applied to each side of the board.  This process is among the most simple of all the steps of surfboard fabrication – resin is poured out of a small pail and then spread evenly over the surface of the board with a large paint brush.  Each side is left to cure before flipping the board a final time to hotcoat the other side.

Hot coating produces a slick, imperfect surface.  In order to make it ready for use, every square inch of the board must be sanded.  Sanding makes the surfboard finally feel like a surfboard; smooth, strong, and perfect.  Many boards are considered finished and ready for use at this stage but the Pendleton boards receive one additional treatment – a gloss coat.

Glossing

The gloss coat is nearly identical to the hotcoat.  The only major difference in the processes is that the gloss coat resin is slightly thinner and is applied to a perfectly smooth, even surface.  As a result, less resin is required and a perfectly smooth surface is formed.  Even so, the entire board is sanded again to make it ready for use.  Successive sand paper treatments, each one higher grit than the last, are used to form completely smooth and scratch free surface.

Finishing Touches

To bring a shine to the finished product, buffing compound is applied using a woolen compounding bonnet.  Finally, a treatment of polishing compound is applied to all surfaces of the board using a polishing pad to give it a candy-like luster.

Launch

Tools and hands have passed over every square inch of this board dozens of times and, at last, this Pendleton Limited Edition Surfboard is ready to ride!  Get ready to catch some great waves!

 

 

Aloha from Surf Pendleton and Reyn Spooner

Our Surf Pendleton collection draws inspiration from our history with the California surf scene, where our Board Shirt was featured in songs and on album covers. The collection also celebrates the robust surf culture of our home state, Oregon, where we’ve collaborated with Blackfern on two limited edition surfboards.  But surfing was born in the Hawaiian islands, and nothing says the islands like a Reyn Spooner shirt.

S214_MW04a_51942_1769

To quote the company:

It is true that in Hawaii, time has a way of stopping.  Our way of life here has roots in the ancient, with nature and in Hawaiian culture.  We are committed to enhancing the past by bringing our lifestyle right to you.  We’ve been in business since 1956 using unique archival prints, exclusive vintage artwork, and work of celebrated artists to evoke the island life.  

S214_MW04b_51942_51944

Our designers worked together on to incorporate traditional Pendleton patterns into Reyn Spooner’s Spooner Kloth®. This fabric is woven in Japan and sewn on the reverse for a distinctively weathered appearance. Shirts and shorts made with Spooner Kloth® are cool, easy care, and they last forever.

S214_MW04d_51967

So there you have it; a little bit of Hawaii with Surf Pendleton style. Mahalo!

 

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

ed. note: Happy Summer! This post originally ran a few years ago, but with the weather like it is, we hope you’ll enjoy it again today.

In the early 1960s, a group called The Pendletones adopted their name in honor of the surf uniform of the day: Pendleton shirts worn over tee shirts with khakis. The original lineup included brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine.

The Pendletones soon changed their name to the Beach Boys . Even though only one member of the group had ever been on a surfboard, they sang about the California surfing scene; waves, sunshine, cars and girls. This might have been simple subject matter, but layered instrumentation and soaring harmonies made these songs anything but simple. Under the unique artistic leadership of Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys defined surf music. And though their name changed, their uniform didn’t. The band wore this blue and charcoal plaid shirt on the covers of 45s and LPs throughout the early 1960s.

The Beach Boys’ Pendleton shirts were part an existing trend. When surfing came to California in the late 1950s, surfers devised performance wear: swim trunks and plaid Pendleton shirts over a layer of Vaseline. Surfers wore the same shirts over light pants on the shore, and a fashion trend was born.

This look hit the radio airwaves courtesy of the Majorettes, whose song, “White Levis” became a number one hit in 1963. As the lyrics said, “My boyfriend’s always wearin’ white Levi’s…and his tennis shoes and his surfin’ hat and a big plaid Pendleton shirt.”

That’s a Pendleton shirt  cover of that 45, even though they named the song after the pants. You can give it a listen here, and don’t be surprised if you start singing along.  But let’s get back to the shirt made so popular by the Beach Boys.

In 2002, Pendleton celebrated eight decades of Pendleton shirts by bringing back iconic shirts from each decade. To celebrate the 1960s, we brought back the Board Shirt in the same plaid seen on all those record covers. We officially named it the Blue Beach Boys Plaid.

The shirt has stayed in the line ever since. We’ve used it in caps, hats, bags and jackets. It’s still made in the original 100% virgin Umatilla wool as it was back then, but we’ve interpreted it in rayon for campshirts and cotton for sleepwear.

We have done a few colorations of the plaid. Whether it’s in blue, coral,  rust or olive,  the pattern is easily recognizable.

Because of its strong ties to surfing history and culture, this pattern was used in key collaborations with Hurley and VANS in the late 2000s.

There is a discussion now and then in Pendleton’s Menswear division about which is our most enduring men’s item of all time. Some say it’s the Topster, the shirt jacket that defined collegiate wear in the 1950s and 60s. Some say it’s the Westerley cardigan worn by the Dude in “The Big Lebowski.” Others claim the honor for the Beach Boys Board Shirt.

This shirt is almost as beloved as the band that made it famous! It’s one of our top-sellers each year, regularly chosen by winners of the wool shirt giveaways we have on our Menswear Facebook page, and still worn by surfers, boarders, musicians, sons and fathers. The shirt is still going strong, and so are the Beach Boys. The band is currently out on tour, and they still love Pendleton.

Patriotic Blankets for July 4th

We have woven many blankets that celebrate American patriotism over the years, from the Grateful Nation and Code Talker blankets that celebrate the contributions of our veterans, to retired blankets like Chief Eagle and Home of the Brave.

Here are two beautiful blankets that summon the patriotic spirit of this Independence Day.

Dawn’s Early Light:

DawnsEarlyLight_Frnt

“O say can you see by the dawn’s early light.” These words were penned on the back of an envelope in 1814 by young lawyer and poet Francis Scott Key. Key was held captive on a Royal Navy ship as British ships in Chesapeake Bay bombarded Fort McHenry throughout the night. When dawn broke, the fort was still standing, the American flag still waving. It was a turning point in the war of 1812, and the birth of our national anthem, the “Star Spangled Banner.” This blanket, woven in our American mills, commemorates the Bicentennial of that momentous morning in U.S. history. Fifteen red and white stripes and stars represent those on the flag at that time. Each star is shaped like an aerial view of the fort, which was built in the shape of a five-pointed star. Striations and imprecise images give the design a vintage Americana look.

Brave Star:

Brave_StarThis contemporary interpretation of the American flag is a celebration of the patriotism of Native Americans. In 1875 Indian Scouts carried messages from fort to fort in the West. Native American soldiers saw action with Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders in Cuba. And soldiers from many tribes battled in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf and Iraq. Five Native Americans have been awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery “above and beyond the call of duty.” The design marries modern asymmetry and vintage Americana. The unique striations, using pulled out yarns, reflect an era when dyes were made from plants.

Have a great Fourth!

PWM_USA_label

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 116 other followers