Pendleton was originally founded by Thomas Kay, a sailor, in 1863. Thomas Kay knew how to weave and had frequently spent his younger days crossing the Atlantic ocean to work at textile mills in the East coast. While sailing up the pacific coast, Kay happened upon Oregon, which had ideal conditions for raising sheep and producing wool due to moderate weather and plentiful (hello, rain) amounts of water. Around 1889, Kay opened up his own wool mill in Salem, kickstarting a future american success story.
Thomas Kay’s eldest daughter, Fannie, later began assisting her father with management of the mill. She then married C.P. bishop, and his retail experience in combination with Fannie and Thomas Kay’s helped to grow the business. Their mill soon relocated to Pendleton, Oregon and became known as Pendleton Woolen Mills. Their first products soon emerged in September of 1909. Mainly, woven blankets with a variety of color and patterns were created. But by 1912, men’s apparel took the lead due to an additional weaving mill opening up in Washougal, Washington. Warm and functional, wool shirts made by Pendleton Mills were becoming vastly popular, and soon enough the legendary Pendleton virgin wool men’s shirt was established in 1924. Woman’s apparel also became popular around 1949, specializing in weaving long skirts and iconic wool jackets.
Today, Pendleton remains highly recognized and iconic. The company owns and operates 7 facilities, manages 75 Pendleton retail stores and publishes apparel catalogs. Come visit our store today to see the numerous Pendleton pieces available!
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