Maintaining a menswear brand can be difficult. High fashion credibility can turn on a dime. Decades of blue collar branding can wither away if a new generation of workers doesn’t see your clothing as reliable or authentic. Mass market retail tastes change with the seasons. Despite the ever-changing fashion landscape, Pendleton has managed to remain a brand that is all things to all menswear buyers. Its offerings are chic, widely available and maintain its connection to a rugged American spirit that has long made its clothes appealing. How did the brand get to this revered station in American fashion mythology? To understand that, you have to know where the brand has been.

Pendleton came by its rugged beauty authentically. English weaver Thomas Kay took over as manager of the second wool mill in Oregon in 1863 following a journey to America on a rough voyage that involved crossing the Isthmus of Panama by donkey. During this tumultuous time in American history, Oregon was not only America’s newest state, but it was also ideal for raising sheep thanks to the temperate Pacific Northwest climate. Kay found success, opening his own mill. His daughter Fannie would marry retailer C.P. Bishop, and the company known as Pendleton Woolen Mills was born. The company has remained in Bishop family hands ever since.

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