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Pendleton Woolen Mills is famous for their woolen clothing, blankets, and other textiles. Based in Portland, Oregon in the United States, Pendleton is over 150 years old. It was founded by Thomas Kay, an immigrant from England who was a weaver by trade. Having worked in other woolen mills, Kay helped organise Oregon's second woolen mill in Brownsville, which he oversaw the weaving operation, then in 1889 he opened his own mill in Salem, Oregon. Kay's eldest daughter, Fannie learned the mill business and helped her father in the mills operation and management. When she married a retail mercanhe, CP Bishop, it formed a solid foundation for what was to become Pendleton Woolen Mills.
The business was passed to the three Bishop sons, Clarence, Roy and Chauncey. In 1909 the Bishop brothers started an idle mill in Pendleton, Oregon. This mill started as a scouring plant, which washed raw wool. In 1895, this scouring plant was extended and converted into a Woolen Mill, making blankets and robes for Native Americans - the very first Pendleton Blankets.
In the early 20th centuary, Pendleton extended to make wool clothing, in particular men's shirts. Wool shirts for men at the time were utility items, mostly drab in design and colour. Clarence Morton Bishop had a vision for wool shirts in vivid colours and patterns and in 1924 Pendleton virgin wools shirts began. By 1929 Pendleton was making a full range of mens virgin wool clothing and sportswear, in checks, plaids and Native American style designs.
In 1949 Pendleton extended their range again to incorporate womenswear, with the launch of the '49er jacket. Expansion in menswear made Pendleton Men's robes and dressing gowns the Christmas gift of choice.
In the 1950s Pendleton became a firm favourite in the Mod Ivy League look. Men loved the Pendleton shirts as a casualwear option and the 'Sir Pendleton' merino shirt, where college girls and women were impressed by the Pendleton reversible skirt - soon a must-have fashion item on campus.
In the sixties the Pendleton Board Shirts were famously adopted by The Beach Boys. Illustrating the bands love for Pendleton, The Beach Boys were originally called 'The Pendletones'. The Beach Boys are pictured in Pendleton Shirts on the cover of two albums. Look out for a Beach Boys inspired Pendleton range coming for Summer 2015.
Today Pendleton Woolen Mills is still a family run business. Thier blankets are still woven and made in the USA and have become recognised for thier quality and design. Thier clothing ranges still incorporate the Wool Shirt heritage which made Pendleton so sucessful and famous in the beginning, with an American look and utility ethic.