The story of Pendleton starts with an experienced English weaver named Thomas Kay. After sailing from England to the east coast of the United States and spending several years working in textile mills, Kay travelled to Oregon in 1863. Oregon provided great conditions for raising sheep for the production of wool. By the late 19th century, and into the early 20th century, Kay partnered with his son-in-law C.P. Bishop and became well known for producing high quality woolen blankets with colourful designs inspired by Native American communities. Native Americans bought, sold, and traded these blankets which very quickly became highly coveted items used in everyday life as well as in many ceremonies.
By the 1910s, Pendleton began its expansion into providing men’s shirtings with the three Bishop sons Clarence, Roy, and Chauncey managing the growth of the company. In the early 20th century, men’s wool shirts were very utilitarian and were only available in drab colours. Clarence wanted to take the company’s expertise in producing colourful trade blankets and apply it directly toward producing colourful plaid shirtings for men. In 1924, Pendleton produced its first virgin wool shirt and by 1929 had expanded its offerings to a full line of men’s wool sportswear garments. At the time sportswear encompassed activities such as hunting and fishing.
During World War II, the company’s production power was directed towards the war effort providing blankets and uniforms. After the war, a new fascination with sportswear blossomed. Pendleton’s name grew more synonymous in this category but was also adopted by an unlikely group of California surfers. By the late 1950s, surfing had come to California and continued to grow rapidly in popularity. The surfer uniform quickly became swim trunks and a Pendleton plaid over a layer of vaseline. On-shore, the same shirt was paired with khaki pants and a t-shirt. The brand became so entwined in California surf culture that a surf-rock band that called themselves the Pendletones was seen on many of their album covers and press photos sporting blue and grey Pendleton plaid shirts. Later this group would change their name to the Beach Boys and sell more than 100 million records.
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Information retrieved from these websites :
Images are sourced from Pendleton site/blog and from Pintrest