Sierra Ridge: Taking Summer into Fall

A woman stands on the beach, looking out to sea.

The last days of Summer

Summer 2020 is almost over, and we are looking ahead to the offical arrival of Fall. One of our new patterns for Fall is Sierra Ridge. It’s shown to wonderful advantage in our Craftsman Collection blanket. These are special blankets, and Sierra Ridge is a standout.

Sierra Ridge Pendleton blanket for The Craftsman Collection

Sierra Ridge Legend

The Sierra Nevadas are the traditional grounds of many Native peoples. The Sierra Miwok, Mono, Kawaiisu, Northern Paiute and Tubatulabal tribes have lived and hunted here. The Paiutes called its tallest granite peak Tumanguya, or, “the Very Old Man.”  Also called Mt. Whitney, it is the highest point in the contiguous United States. The mountains of the 400-mile range are represented by stepped peaks, with arrows guarding the streams and rivers of the Great Basin watershed.

You can learn more about the blanket here: Craftsman Collection by Pendleton

The Sierra Ridge pattern is available in a range of beautiful bags and accessories.

A woman holds a Sierra Ridge bag.

See them here: Sierra Ridge bags and accessories

A woman places her sunglasses into her Sierra Ridge bag.

Jackets, yes, JACKETS

The blanket is beautiful, and the bags and scarves are, too. Our favorites are the denim jackets for men and women trimmed with panels of pure Pendleton wool in the Sierra Ridge pattern. These are perfect transitional pieces to take you from late Summer days to early Fall weather.

A woman stands on a rocky beach, looking to to sea.

See the entire collection here: Sierra Ridge by Pendleton

Our thanks to Joe Goger for these gorgeous photos on the California Coast. You can see more of his work here: Joe Goger Instagram

Thistle for Spring

Why thistle?

There are two stories behind Pendleton’s affinity with thistle. One is about the thistle’s long-ago part in getting fleece ready for weaving.

The process of carding wool cleans, mixes and smooths fibers as part of the transformation of fleece into yarn. The word “carding,” from the Latin carduus, means thistle or teasel. In weaving’s earliest days, dried teasels and thistles were used to pick raw wool as the first step in carding.

Once wool was spun and woven, handheld combs called “teasel crosses” were used to ‘full’ woven goods to raise the nap. You can see one here: teasel cross  So you can understand our love for a plant that was an actual tool for wool processing!

Tartans & Pendleton

The thistle stands fair and tall, with a nectar-filled flower that is well-protected. This duality of nectar and spike befits the national bloom of Scotland, home to the tartans for which Pendleton Woolen Mills is renowned. Our affinity for tartans is so strong that Pendleton used thistle-patterned buttons on many items of tartan womenswear in the 1950s through the 1970s.

You can see those buttons and learn about the vintage skirt that inspired our modern Thistle pattern in this video. It features some of our favorite designers talking about adapting vintage inspiration to modern designs.

Thistle for Spring

We took our Thistle inspiration into Spring with lighter weight wool, for a versatile layer that keeps you just the right amount of warm during transitional weather. It’s a lined dress-up-or-down jacket with a flattering neckline, cozy cuffs, neck and hem, and those all-important pockets. The fabric is woven in our own USA mills.

A woman with long blond hair stands in front of a white background, wearing black pants and a black wool zip-up jacket with blue thistle flowers in the fabric pattern.

We love the colors. Check it out here: Thistle Bomber Jacket  

The Pendleton ’49er for Fall 2018

Quality Never Goes Out of Style

The Pendleton 49’er is a perfect illustration of the adage that quality never goes out of style.

A young woman sits on some wooden steps, wearing a Pendleton 49'er wool shirt jacket.

This American classic is still going strong after more than sixty years. But where did it come from?

A vintage Pendleton ad that shows a variety of Pendleton wool plaid pieces, including the Pendleton 49'er jacket.

49’er History

The answer starts with the changes for women in World War II, when American women proclaimed, “We can do it.” This iconic WWII image was used in countless posters and bond drives during WWII. A serious woman dressed for hard work with her hair in a kerchief, the image still fixes us today, gazing out at onlookers over a flexed bicep.

The Rosie the Riveter poster from WWII, with the caption "We Can Do It!" A woman on the assembly line flexes her arm to show her strength.

She was a symbol of women stepping up to fill the need for factory workers during wartime, but she was also part of the emergence of one of Pendleton’s most enduring items of womenswear: the 49’er jacket.

Pendleton’s success with men’s shirts had happened twenty years earlier, but during WWII, men were not the only people enjoying distinctive plaids and ombres in pure virgin wool. Women began to borrow men’s work shirts for both work and warmth. It’s possible that by wearing their husband’s shirts, women kept the memories of their husbands, fiancés and brothers close, though many undoubtedly needed some serious work wear that was simply not available for women at the time. Whatever the reason, women loved Pendleton shirts.

In 1949, when market research identified an opportunity for sportswear for women, Pendleton entered the market with their first women’s line. This was a test offering of classic skirts, jackets and shirt, to test exactly how the American woman would react to a branded line of virgin wool sportswear. The positive response was resounding, but no one could have predicted the enormous success of a single garment introduced that year.

Says Linda Parker, head of Pendleton Communications, “The first women’s line in 1949 was composed of five items.  It is amazing to me that out of such a limited initial offering that the ’49er would develop such an immediate following and reputation.”  The jacket referred to both the year of its introduction, and the California Gold Rush, in a nod to Pendleton’s Western roots.

The designer was Berte Wiechmann, a young woman who came to Pendleton from Jantzen,  another iconic Portland apparel company. Miss Wiechmann sewed the original samples herself, taking styling particulars from the Pendleton men’s shirt. The ’49er jacket featured discreet tucking at the yoke, and two bias-cut patch pockets near the hem. The boxy cut showcased Pendleton’s famous plaids, and larger iridescent shell buttons softened the look.

Miss Weichmann was very particular about these buttons. She insisted on a special black shell from Australia and Tahiti, supplied by J. Carnucci & Sons, NJ.

In 1956 alone, Pendleton would use $150,000.00 worth of these buttons.

Yes. You read that correctly. One hundred and fifty thousand dollars worth of buttons alone, in 1956.

The desirability of the ’49er was immediate, despite the introductory retail price range of $14.95 to $17.95. Says Parker, “We have many testimonials of how young women saved their babysitting and strawberry-picking money in order to buy a ’49er.  Women everywhere had it on their wish list of gifts.” The first consumer was the collegiate girl, who were in the grips of a menswear inspired trend. The ’49er was perfect over a white cotton dress shirt over “trews,” narrow wool pants.

The first print ad for the ’49er ad was done by Fred Love in 1950. A college girl in a MacLamond tartan ’49er pretends to ignore the cartoonish interest of the college boy behind her, snug and stylish in her ’49er. Love continued to illustrate the ads through 1951, when famed illustrator Ted Rand took over the job of communicating the Pendleton ’49er with ads that are still iconically beautiful. He changed the focus from the teenager to the woman, and incorporated elements of the Western landscape when he could.

The first Pendleton ad for Womenswear featured a drawing of a "college coed" in her Pendleton plaid pieces, with the caption, "Stunning News - Pendleton Add-a-piece Casuals."

The ’49er’s simple, casual styling continued to be a perfect fit for the emerging suburban lifestyle of post-war America. During the post-war years, it served as one of the easiest solutions for outerwear over all the Baby Boom baby bumps. Parker explains, “I personally think that Ted Rand shares some of the kudos for making the ’49er a household name with his inspired illustrations.”

An Artistic Genius

A classic vintage ad for Pendleton sportswear from 1952, featuring a Pendleton 49'er jacket, art by Ted Rand.

Another classic vintage ad for Pendleton sportswear from 1957, featuring a Pendleton 49'er jacket, art by Ted Rand.

Ted Rand began illustrating Pendleton ads in 1953. His elegant women and echoes of the Western landscape moved the jacket from the campus to the suburbs, where it became the staple of a woman’s wardrobe. The popularity soared and knock-offs abounded, to the point where the company had to seek legal protection of the design. Yes, the ’49er is a patented jacket!

From the Archives

The earliest ’49er in the Pendleton archives is a red, yellow and chartreuse version owned by Mrs. Sarah Brourink, who sent it to our archives in the year 2000 after wearing it for 51 years. Here is a vintage example in the exact plaid.

The original Pendleto 49'er jacket in a bright block plaid.

In the years of its prime (1949-1961), over a million Pendleton ’49ers were sold to American women. And it continues to sell well now, after re-introduction in the early 2000s. Collectors still chase after the originals, and beautiful examples can be seen on elated bloggers. Our re-issues do extremely well whenever they are included in a Fall or Holiday line.  Whether in the arresting brights of a bold Buchanan tartan, or the shaded colors of a subtle ombre plaid, the silhouette is still unmistakable. Still made of 100% virgin wool woven in our USA mills, the ’49er works dressed up with a skirt and a belt, or dressed down with jeans. Like a good wool men’s shirt, it serves as a go-to second layer for the backyard or the office.

Fashion is fleeting, but style endures.

The Pendleton 49’er is a perfect illustration of that.

A young model wears heans and a Pendleton 49'er jacket.

Check out the 49’er here: Pendleton 49’er jacket