Our store manager for Portland Pendleton received these photos after making a Westerley cardigan shipment to Italy. Pictured are four friends from Modena who have a passion for cinema: Cristiano, Filippo, Francesco and Matteo.
The Big Lebowski
These dudes especially like “The Big Lebowski.” For their annual meeting, they wore their Dude sweaters (our Westerley Cardigan) and enjoyed White Russians. Maybe you think four dudes are too many, but that’s just your opinion.
Photos by Lavinia Nitu, used with permission
The Westerley is back in stock at our website: SHOP NOW
You may know it as The Dude’s cardigan or the Big Lebowski sweater, but we debuted the Westerley cardigan in 1974 as part of our High Grade Westernwear line.
The Westerley drew inspiration from beautiful Cowichan sweaters that are hand-knit by Pacific Northwest tribes. Our version was machine-knitted by Winona Knitting Mills of Minnesota, a two-facility company owned by the Woodworth family. Winona Mills was one of the very few USA knitting mills who offered a 2gg knit, a term meaning only two knit stitches per inch. A 2gg sweater is heavy enough to work as outerwear. As the long-time leader of our menswear division expressed it, “You could wear it in a monsoon, and you’d stay warm.”
The vintage Westerley was knit in 3gg, and it was almost as impressive as the 2gg for thickness and warmth. The Westerley was one cozy sweater. We offered it in the western, outdoor and casual lines for over ten years. Over its run of production, the zip front, ring zipper pull and shawl collar stayed the same, as did the Greek key-inspired pattern. Archival visits show that the Westerley’s color variations are surprisingly wide.
The sweater went out of production in the 1980s, but found the limelight in the early 2000s, thanks to an obscure movie that didn’t stay obscure.
The Big Lebowski
This Coen brothers film was released to low to middling success in 1998, but quietly grew into a cult favorite. No one can pinpoint the exact reason why. Was it Donny’s clueless questions? Walter’s chin-strap beard? The German nihilists? The dream sequence scored by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition?
Well, it was probably a grand confluence of all of these important factors, plus the masterful turn taken by Jeff Bridges as The Dude. He staggers in and out of trouble, wearing alternately sweats, shorts, pajama pants, a bathrobe, a purple t-shirt and a battered Westerley cardigan.
Jeff Bridges wore his own clothes for this role, and though there were two sweaters hand-knitted as back-ups, he preferred wearing his personal Pendleton Westerley.
“The Big Lebowski” continues to grow as a cultural phenomenon. It’s not a movie anymore, it’s a lifestyle. Its fans, the Achievers, have conventions and their own documentary. And as the movie’s audience has grown, so has the demand for a re-creation of The Dude’s sweater.
The First Revivals
Pendleton’s first run at reproducing the “Big Lebowski sweater” came in the Fall of 2011. The Dude Cardigan was not an exact replica. It had the weight and coloration of the original Westerley, with a slightly different knit pattern and a leather zipper pull. This homage sweater generated an enormous amount of publicity, especially because the sweater worn by Jeff Bridges in the movie was going to auction that same year. The provenance of the auction sweater came into question and it was withdrawn from auction. Pendleton’s version sold out almost immediately.
In Fall 2013, we brought back the sweater in the original 3gg knit under the Westerley name. We went to the archives, and settled on two versions: a cream with red and black pattern, and a desert brown version with navy and gold pattern.
We offered the Westerley in another archival coloration in charcoal and blue early in the fall of 2014. These were all great Westerleys. They were archivally accurate, beautifully made and selling well to fans of traditional menswear. We stand behind these Westerleys!
But this was not the sweater the Achievers wanted, and the Achievers would not be denied.
The Original Westerley
Well, it’s here. We have researched the archives and studied the movie to capture the coloration as best we can for our newest version, known as The Original Westerley.
This is 100% lambswool in 3gg knit, and it’s ready to take you through your next monsoon, or maybe to your next Lebowskifest. We’ve even restored the ring zipper pull, to which we’ve attached a small bowling pin keychain. We think it really pulls the sweater together.
The Dude abides. And so does his sweater. Come see us in our stores (see Ben, the manager of our Colorado store, above), or order online before they’re gone.
Here at Pendleton, we are so moved when people take the time to let us know the special ways they incorporate Pendleton into their lives. And that includes weddings!
Quite a few editorial shoots use us for wedding or engagement photos. But when we’re used as part of an actual wedding, as we were in the wedding of Zoe Fisher and Matt Johnson (photos by Heather Bayles Photography), we are incredibly proud.
Pendleton played a part in the engagement of Bob and Melba Stork. They were shopping in Pasadena, California on a spring day in 1951 when a store window with Pendleton shirts caught their attention. They looked at several patterns and decided on a red and green plaid as an engagement gift to each other.
Bob and Melba wore traditional bridal attire when they were married on October 27th, 1951, at St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Temple City, California.
After the wedding, they left for a honeymoon trip to the Grand Canyon, where they stayed in a cabin near El Tovar. Bob set up a tripod to capture a picture of them wearing their shirts as a newly married couple.
Fifty years later, their twin daughters and their husbands organized a golden wedding anniversary celebration for the Storks, their family and friends at the Grand Canyon. This photo was taken near the spot where the first photo was taken; a short distance from their honeymoon cabin.
The Storks have worn their shirts as jackets many times over the 61 years of their marriage. They have been part of travels throughout the United States, and Melba says, “(they) are as bright, fashionable and warm as they were when we purchased them 61 years ago.”
Bob and Melba Stork were married 61 years on October 27, 2012. Bob is 93, and Melba is a bit younger. They still travel, but they won’t be taking their Pendleton shirts with them anymore. They are passing them down to their granddaughter, Lauren, and her fiance, Drew, who will be married this coming February. We will count ourselves lucky to get a photo of the “kids” in these shirts.
The Grewe Bonds
The next wedding we’re going to show you took place last winter, when Celeste Grewe and Joshua Bond said “I do” at Camp Creek Campground in the Mt Hood National Forest. After the bridal party wended its way through a snow-carpeted forest, the ceremony took place in front of the camp kitchen for the CCC workers in 1936.
Josh and Celeste met while working at a local snowboard shop called Exit Real World (with whom we did a collaboration some years back). The mountain has played an important part in their relationship, so it was fitting that they were married at 2200 ft elevation.
Celeste had this to say; “We wanted our wedding to really reflect Oregon, and especially to give our out-of-town guests a great feel for the history of the state. Both our families raised us with Pendleton products. Pendleton has a longstanding history with Oregon and the Northwest. It was important to incorporate a traditional element into our wedding, which is where we got the blanket ceremony (plus it was really cold last February). It was also a wonderful way to ask our parents to be involved with the ceremony.”
First, the bride and groom were wrapped in Crater Lake National Park blankets by their fathers. This symbolized their separate lives. These blankets were removed and held by their maid of honor and best man. Then the mothers of the bride and groom wrapped them in a white Glacier National Park blanket to symbolize their shared future.
The Crater Lake blankets were presented to the mothers as gifts. Celeste said of the Glacier blanket, “It’s a show piece in our home.” She is happy with how the national park blankets hearken back to “…the early part of the 1900s, the national parks, and the CCC and WPA, and the 1940s time frame of the ring I inherited from my paternal grandmother.” As you watch the slideshow (photos by Mike at Powers Studios), watch for other Pendleton items on the guests and bridal party.
To all of our friends who have made Pendleton part of their weddings, we say, best wishes for the future. May your beginnings be sweet, and may your lives together be wonderful. Thanks for letting us be a part of both.
This past fall, Zoe Fisher and Matt Johnson tied the knot under an ancient tree in Portland’s Laurelhurst Park. The bride was beautiful and the groom was handsome, but here at Pendleton, our attention was drawn to the row of attending men.
There they are, standing proud in our Dude Cardigan, Pendleton’s tribute to the Westerley worn by Jeff Bridges as The Dude in “The Big Lebowski.”
All the Details
I was able to talk to Zoe to talk about her wedding last week, and the first thing I asked her was, did her wedding have an official theme? “It was Portland,” said Zoe. “Just Portland. My husband’s family is from the East coast and this was going to be their first trip out here. So we wanted the wedding to reflect Portland as much as it could.”
Marrying in red is a bold choice. It’s a fantastic color, and Zoe’s dress has a definite Adele vibe. Was it new or vintage? “Both, kind of. I found a vintage 1950s Butterick pattern on eBay and gave it to a Portland seamstress named Skye Blue. She’s into sustainable and upcycled designs, so I knew she’d be up for an unconventional wedding dress. I gave her the pattern and fabric I found for $6.00 a yard at the Fabric Depot.”
And look what she did with it!
The dress was new and old. Zoe added something borrowed and something blue with the Chanel Nouvelle Vague nail polish, owned and applied by a friend.
Zoe was ready to get married in style. But what about the men?
Two occurrences had the bride-and-groom-to-be thinking about having the male members of the wedding party in Pendleton sweaters.
Last December, Zoe saw a feature in Portland Bride magazine that used the Pendleton Jerome cardigan. “It definitely fit in with our theme. Pendleton is the Portland brand.”
Then in May of 2011, The Oregonian ran a feature on the Dude Cardigan, a tribute version of the cardigan worn in a movie that, well, it means a lot to Matt and Zoe. “We’re basically obsessed with The Big Lebowski. So much so that we quote it almost every day.”
The stars were set to align. But a call to the downtown Portland Pendleton store was worrisome. “The ship date was really close to the wedding, and they’d pre-sold most of the stock before it even arrived. We were on the waiting list!”
Zoe decided to go to the store in person to look at other sweater options. When she arrived, associates were unpacking Dude sweaters and making calls. And once Zoe saw the cardigan in person, no other would do.
That’s where Pendleton people stepped in. Sheri Vanderpool, manager at Portland Pendleton, says, “Associate Michelle Seyer worked with Zoe personally, calling all around the country.” Michelle kept calling until she found enough for Matt’s three groomsmen, and Zoe’s best friend Jazz, who was one of her attendants. The sweaters came from every geographic region.
“We bought the sweaters and gave them as attendant gifts,” explains Zoe. “My dad was a little pouty that he didn’t get to wear one, but I said, no Dad, you’re the father of the bride. You wear a suit.” And of course, the groom Matt wanted one, too. He may or may not be getting one for Christmas. Matt will just have to wait and see on December 25th.
The event was captured on film by Heather Bayles, a Portland photographer who allowed us to use these shots. Ms. Bayles took the pre-wedding shots at the Nines Hotel and the reception photos at the Bossanova Ballroom. Y
The very Oregon flowers were provided by Quince .
A big thanks to Zoe and Matt for allowing us to share in their very Lebowski wedding, and a special thanks to Zoe for sharing all the details that went into planning an event of so much heart, soul and style.
When complimented on her bravery for planning an outdoor wedding in Portland’s fall weather, she said, “Well, we decorated our save-the-date cards with an umbrella.” Did the wedding party have umbrellas, just in case? That idea made Zoe laugh. “We’re natives! We don’t do umbrellas!”
Congratulations, Zoe and Matt Johnson, and here’s to a beautiful future together. And if the Johnsons have inspired you to investigate some creative choices for your wedding, come see us online or at one of our stores. We’d be happy to make it happen for you.
There are plenty of Right Then, Right Now garments in Pendleton’s history, but by far, our most famous sweater was immortalized in the cult classic, “The Big Lebowski.”
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? 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…
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.
Joining the Archive
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.