This Coen brothers film was released to low to middling success in 1998, but quietly grew into a cult favorite. No one can quite pinpoint why. Was it Donny’s clueless questions? The dream sequence scored by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition? (click here to see a young Kenny Rogers perform the song on a giant psychadelic bed, click here for a nice homage version with movie stills) Was it Walter’s chin-strap beard? Or perhaps the German nihilists?
Well, it was all of these, but most of all, we think it was The Sweater.
Jeff Bridges wore his own clothes for this role, and though there were several sweaters hand-knitted as back-ups, he preferred wearing his original Pendleton. As the Dude, he staggers in and out of trouble, wearing alternately sweats, shorts, pajama pants, a bathrobe, t-shirts and…
The original Pendleton cardigan debuted in 1974 as the Westerley.
We took inspiration from the beautiful hand-knitted Cowichan sweaters of the Pacific Northwest tribes, but ours were machine-knitted by Winona Knitting Mills of Minnesota. Here’s a little U.S.A. manufacturing history for you…Winona Mills was a two-facility company, owned by the Woodworth family. They were one of the very few knitters in the US who could do a 2gg knit. A 2gg knit is basically outerwear. You could wear it in a monsoon, and you’d stay warm and cozy.
The vintage Westerley is a 3gg knit, and it is WARM. We offered the Westerley in the western, outdoor and casual lines over the years. If your tag has a white background, it was part of the Western line. The blue labels are in the outdoor and casual lines. While down in the archives researching, I counted at least eight colorations, but that was just when I stopped counting. There are probably more.
The colors went all over the place, but the zip front, ring pull and shawl color stayed the same.
We have a few versions of this sweater in our archives, but when Kyle Anderson contacted us to see if we wanted his, we were delighted to accept it. Here it is, not quite mint but then again, neither is the Dude’s.
According to Kyle, the original owner, it was worn once. It’s in beautiful shape, it’s a great coloration, and best of all, it’s an XL so it will actually fit our modern size-large forms. Eventually, we hope this garment this will go on permanent display, but until then we’ve put this sweater to work in photo shoots and fashion shows beacuse 2011 marks the year we released a tribute version of the cardigan.
We don’t call it the Westerly anymore. We call it the Dude. This is a heavyweight sweater, designed to keep you warm no matter where you’re doing your Achieving. It’s available at our stores and our website. We didn’t exactly replicate the original. We wanted to preserve the value of the vintage sweaters that sell on eBay to Achievers everywhere.
The phenomenon that is “The Big Lebowski” continues. There are books devoted to the lore of Lebowski. All over the country, Lebowskifests draw crowds of Achievers, troupes of dancing bowling pins, and character look-alikes. You can buy stuffed animals, action figures and, of course, sweaters new or sweaters old.
The Dude abides. And so does his sweater.