Pendleton’s plaid gets hip and goes global

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Sunday, April 01, 2007
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PORTLAND — Jim Buckner knows his wool and he’s proud of it. Still, he never thought he’d see the day when shoes and athletic jackets were made of the iconic plaids Pendleton Woolen Mills is famous for.

To say the man in charge of the menswear division was surprised to find out Pendleton was going to be part of a “Materials of the World” promotion by athletic-wear giant Adidas International is putting it mildly. “It was honest to god a cold call,” he says, referring to the call from Adidas’ German headquarters he received last summer. The company wanted swatches of shirt fabric for a line of bags, jackets and shoes made from recognizable fabric makers.

Pendleton represents the United States alongside fabrics from Africa, England, Germany, India and Japan.

Buckner has his own theory on why Adidas saw the 100% pure virgin wool from Pendleton as a U.S. symbol. “Pendleton represents Americana,” he says.

The limited-edition items are sold in Adidas’ Originals stores around the world including downtown Portland. The jackets, shoes and bags with the blue “Warranted to be a Pendleton” label retail for between $150 and $250.

Pendleton also collaborated with shoemaker Vans last year on a line of shoes based on the Pendleton shirts California surfers, including the Beach Boys, began wearing in the 1960s.

These collaborations open up a new, much younger market for Pendleton. Plaid is now rad.

— Colleen Moran


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