CALVIN KLEIN is proud to debut an ongoing partnership with this iconic mainstay of the American design landscape, the meeting of two storied legacies. A reimagining of the classic Pendleton saddle blanket, in a bold + richly hued design inspired by the graphic patches of Raf Simons’ debut denim offering; available in six colorways, exclusively online and at the Madison Avenue flagship.
Synonymous with craftsmanship and timeless appeal, the origin story of Pendleton Woolen Mills reads as a narrative of the quintessential American dream, realized: young English weaver Thomas Lister Kay immigrated to Oregon and built from the ground up the business which would ultimately become Pendleton. Today, six generations on, the brand’s history is one intimately entwined with that of the nation itself.
Against the backdrop of the mythic American West, its woolen blankets were a staple of settlers and Native Americans alike throughout the company's early days. At once utilitarian object, domestic mainstay, and a form of currency, the brilliantly colored blankets offered protection from the cold and the sun, and loomed large in the trading of the time.
Incorporated in 1909, the company would quickly come to revolutionize men’s fashion, by 1924 debuting a mass-produced plaid shirt that was a hit with America’s burgeoning taste for casual wear, and by the end of the decade expanding the Pendleton apparel offering exponentially. Post-WWII, with ardent female fans borrowing the button-downs off their husband’s backs, the “49’er” made its debut, a classic style which became the foundation of Pendleton womenswear.
During the second half of the 20th century, Pendleton goods soared to Pop Cultural prominence as a preferred uniform of The Beach Boys, who took their original name, The Pendletones, from that of their favorite shirts (the blue Board Shirt the group sported on the cover of Surfer Girl and in countless promotional shots is still sold to this day), A fast favorite of savvy teens across America, the brand even earned a nod in The Majorettes’ 1963 hit “White Levi’s”: My boyfriend’s always wearing’ white Levi’s […] and a big plaid Pendleton shirt.” Before long, the ageless appeal of the wool shirts and jackets came to span music, skate, surf, and classic car cultures. Throughout the ‘80s, Pendleton became a frontrunner of the nascent lifestyle market with an expanded home offering, riffing on the vivid hues and bold patterns that had distinguished the company for generations. After more than 150 years, today Pendleton’s ethos is informed chiefly by the brand’s heritage; blankets and apparel are woven in two company-owned mills, using wool supplied by the same ranch for over seven decades, and techniques which marry traditional craftsmanship and contemporary technology.