Before they were the Beach Boys, they were the Pendletones. This shirt is why.

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 call it the Original Surf Plaid.

The shirt has stayed in the line ever since.

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Photo Joel Bear

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.

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Photo Cassy Berry

There’s some 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 Original Westerley cardigan worn by the Dude in “The Big Lebowski.”

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Photo Ben Jaffe, styling Suzanne Santo

Others claim the honor for the Board Shirt. We’ll let you decide.

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Photo Travis Hallmark

No matter where you are, or what’s the weather, this piece of the sunny California surf scene will take you to the waves.

See them here:         Women’s Board Shirt      Men’s Board Shirt 

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Answering Questions about Pendleton

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Thanks to our friends who have brought some claims circulating on social media to our attention. We owe an enormous debt of respect and gratitude to the Native Americans and First Nations people who choose our blankets, and care deeply about this relationship. We understand that it’s important to speak the truth.

Pendleton’s mills are our pride and joy, and both are well over a century old. Keeping them updated is a priority and a challenge, but we think it’s worth it to keep weaving in the USA. Our mills are subject to inspections, and when problems are identified, we take immediate action to resolve them. We have earned third-party certification for sustainability (read more here), and our management is committed to providing a safe and healthy work environment for all employees.

We respect the right of current and former employees to make political donations to candidates they personally support. These donations are not endorsements by Pendleton.

Pendleton supports the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990. We make our blankets for Native Americans, but we don’t claim our products are made by them. Our company’s history is always part of our marketing and sales materials, and is available on our website.

Pendleton blanket patterns are developed by in-house designers. Some are based on historic designs created to serve the Native American market. Blanket stories, told on hangtags and on the website, credit the inspirations and traditions behind the patterns. We also commission Native American artists to create designs, and adapt existing artwork (usually paintings) into blankets. These artists are always compensated and credited by name for their work. You can learn more here: Native artists.

Pendleton is proud to support organizations that serve Native Americans, veterans and America’s National Parks. Our relationship with The American Indian College Fund spans more than twenty years, and our endowment to the College Fund provides scholarships for Native American students. Pendleton also makes annual donations to NARA (Native American Rehabilitation Center) to support outreach and health care for Native American women.

In 1909, Pendleton was one of many mills producing wool blankets for Native Americans. Now, over a hundred years later, we are the only mill still weaving wool blankets for Native Americans here in the USA. Native Americans were our first, and are still our most valued customers. Thanks to everyone who has written in support of our shared history and friendship.

We hope we have answered your questions, but if you have more concerns, please write to us at PendletonWM@penmills.com and we will respond. We are listening.

Greg Hatten guest post – Buell Blankets and the St. Joseph Museum

Today’s post is from our friend Greg Hatten, of WoodenBoat adventure fame. Greg has always been interested in our Buell blankets (all retired, but one is still available), which were part of our Mill Tribute Series. Greg decided to find out some information on the original Buell blankets at the source; his hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri. Enjoy this visit, and if you’re interested in our Mill Tribute series blankets, links to our previous posts are below.

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Buell Blankets Headed West

St. Joseph, Missouri is my hometown. It’s a dreamy little river town that started out as a trading post on the banks of the Missouri and quickly became a launching pad for pioneers headed west to Oregon and California in the mid 1800’s. Some historians estimate that 250,000 settlers made the trek by wagon and on foot between 1850 and 1900. Most of those trips started in St. Joseph or Independence – where final provisions for the 5 month journey were acquired before embarking on the grand westward adventure that started by crossing the Midwestern prairie. Many were leaving for the rest of their lives.

Provisions and Provender

Wool blankets were on the provisions list of every trip – for sleeping and trading with Native Americans along the way. In St. Joseph, the Buell Woolen Mill was the primary source for blankets headed west. Known for quality over quantity, the blankets were strikingly colorful and many designs were based on patterns used by different Native tribes in paintings and beadwork out west. They were prized by the pioneers and Native Americans alike.

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As stated in the 1910 Buell Catalog:

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Pendleton and the Winter Olympics

Ed. note: Please enjoy a repost of our Olympic blankets from 1932!

Ah, Olympic fever. Fans have been watching the skating and snowboarding, enjoying the games in advance of the opening ceremonies.

Of course, Pendleton has an Olympic connection. In 1932, we won the commission to provide blankets to the Olympics. Here is a photo of the blankets leaving on a train for Los Angeles.

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There are several known colorways for these blankets. In our archives, we have only one, with a very warm color scheme. There are also a light blue and a brights-on-white patterns out there, but we haven’t been able to track down examples. There might even be more. Here is our archival blanket.

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Five Generations in Pendleton blankets

Today’s post is brought to you in honor of Native American Heritage Month. We received these photos from Sharon, and the words you read below are hers. We are honored to be part of this family’s traditions for five generations.

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Dear Pendleton;

“We are who we are because they were who they were”.

Since November is National American Indian Heritage Month, how fitting was it to take a picture of my daughter, Allie, in a beautiful Pendleton blanket. My parents have a picture of my Grandmother, Agnes, in a Pendleton blanket. I’ve always loved that picture and wanted to recreate it. Little did I know, my Mother, Christine, has a picture of her Grandmother, Ruth, in a Pendleton blanket. My mother and I decided to recreate the picture also.

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A Pendleton coat travels the world!

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Patricia sent us the following story about a world-traveling Pendleton coat (seen above in St. Petersburg). And we love it!

Fifty-four years ago this month, my new husband bought me a full length, lined, red plaid Pendleton coat at a store in Bangor, Maine. I loved that coat and for many years it kept me warm. After having two children, I “grew” but my coat did not. Unable to part with it, I found a home for it in the back of a closet. Years later my older daughter saw it and asked if she could take it to college with her. I was happy to have it in use again. After four years at the University of Minnesota, the coat found its way back to my closet.

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It’s a Wrap–Pendleton Mill Tribute Series ends with last Racine blanket

In 2010, Pendleton Woolen Mills introduced our Tribute Series, paying homage to four of the American Mills that thrived during the Golden Age of Native American Trade blankets. Today, we will talk about Racine Woolen Mills, known for their intricate patterns. 

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In 1865, a Racine company began producing textiles under the name Blake & Company under the leadership of Lucien Blake and John Hart. In 1877, the company incorporated under the name of “Racine Woolen Mills—Blake & Company.” Racine Woolen Mills went on to become the premier producer and marketer of Native American Trade blankets.

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The Racine Woolen Mill

Racine was well-established by 1893. Records show employees of 150 skilled weavers and gross sales of $300K, which was an robust amount for the day.

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What (and when) is National Tartan Day?

Did you know April 6 is National Tartan Day? It’s true! National Tartan Day is a relatively new holiday in the United States. The U.S. only began celebrating it in the last 20 years. (Oregon Tartan Day is April 12, so we Oregonians have double the chances to celebrate.) Keep reading to learn how to celebrate National Tartan Day, get tartan outfit ideas, and more.

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Why April 6?

April 6 is a pretty momentous day in Scottish history. (Think of it as Scotland’s 4th of July.) On this day in 1320, Scottish officials signed the Declaration of Arbroath, signifying their independence from England. Some historians even say it inspired America’s Declaration of Independence!

What happens on National Tartan Day?

 National Tartan Day celebrates Scotland’s freedom, as well as Scots’ impact on America’s history and culture. (Did you know that many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were of Scottish descent? Today, roughly 6 million Americans say they’re of Scottish descent.) To celebrate, people wear their family tartan (or simply their favorite), and there are parades and events in various cities with bagpipers, Highland dancing, Scottish food…and plenty of kilts, of course.

Wait, what are tartans?

Here’s a quick refresher on tartans. In a nutshell, a tartan is a plaid that’s been officially listed on the Scottish Register of Tartans, most likely due to familial significance. (All tartans are plaids, but not all plaids are tartans.) Most tartans are worn by Scottish clans to show their family pride. Here at Pendleton, we create blankets and clothing in famous tartans like Black Watch. We’ve also created some of our own tartans, like the Pendleton Hunting Tartan, registered in 1999:

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Here are a few well-known tartans—Black Watch, Rob Roy and Black Stewart:

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What to wear for National Tartan Day

 Tartan, obviously. But beyond that, if you need outfit ideas for National Tartan Day, we’ve got you covered! There are lots of plaid Pendleton shirts to choose from, some of which are also tartans:

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Left to right: MacLeod Tartan, Douglas Tartan, Murray of Atholl Tartan, Stewart Tartan

Pendleton offers plenty of women’s tartan clothing as well, from shirts and blouses to skirts and dresses. And if you just want to curl up under a cozy tartan blanket, Pendleton makes those too, from machine-washable blankets to a luxurious, supersoft throw. Having a party for National Tartan Day? Serve up some smoked salmon or haggis on these lively tartan plates:

tartan-plates

Once you’ve got your festive tartan, celebrate by reading some poetry by Scottish writer Robert Burns, listening to bagpipe music or Auld Lang Syne, finding a parade in your area or simply wishing someone happy National Tartan Day!

How will you celebrate National Tartan Day this year?

Code Talkers: Native Heroes, Never Forgotten

As part of native American History Month, we’d like to look back at a favorite blanket, Code Talkers (retired in 2012), which honors the exceptional valor and service of Navajo Code Talkers during WWII.

The Code Talkers developed a code that could not be cracked, based on the Navajo language. The (now retired) design shows the Navajo words and their coded meanings, which remained impenetrable to German code-breakers throughout the war.

The history of the code talkers  is more riveting than any film or any fiction.  You can learn more at their official site, and  at other sites that tell this fascinating story, which was told in the popular movie “Windtalkers”.

They don’t have a Pendleton blanket, but the Choctaw Code Talkers of WWI   deserve recognition for their role. This small group of Choctaw soldiers conveyed crucial information over tapped phone lines.  You can read more about them here, and see a full list of their names.

It is worth noting that these Native American soldiers fought for the USA before they were even granted official citizenship in 1924. In the year 2008, the United Sates Senate and House of Representatives passed legislation to recognize Code Talkers from several nations: Navajo, Choctaw, Comanche and more.

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As the years march on, there are fewer Code Talkers to honor, but these heroes will not be forgotten. Though Code talkers is no longer available, the Brave Star blanket celebrates the patriotism and military service of Native Americans.

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This 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.

To learn more about the role of Native Americans in America’s defense over two centuries, click here: Native Americans and the US Military

 

Happy Halloween from Pendleton Woolen Mills

We encourage our people to celebrate, but the associates at our Lake Arrowhead Pendleton Outlet charmed the entire company with their recreations of our vintage ad posters.

Brandi brought to life “A MAN NEVER HAS ENOUGH PENDLETONS.”

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Rose incarnated the “Every Pendleton owner wants another Pendleton” poster.

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And Emili took on the ambitious “Vintage Canoe” poster.

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That’s the spirit, ladies. We love it!

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If you’re inspired to visit, please find us at:

Lake Arrowhead Outlet #52
Pendleton Woolen Mills
28200 HIGHWAY 189
LAKE ARROWHEAD, CA 92352
909.336.4860

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