}

Friday, February 4, 2011

Going Native? - Pendleton and Opening Ceremony

There's a lot good to say about Pendleton Woolen Mills. They're a family owned company and their clothes are made in the U.S.A. Their distinct styles and patterns are easily recognized. If you've own a Pendleton garment, you know that their stuff is very well made. As a vegan, I don't buy wool products, but I have a few old Pendleton shirts and flannels that I really like. I doubt that a woolen mill will ever make a cotton or synthetic line, but we vegans can dream, right Pendleton?

In any case, Pendleton has recently done some interesting collaborations with Levis and with Opening Ceremony, both of which accentuate Pendleton's famous Native American style prints. Some of it looks pretty cool, some is a little too busy for my taste.  Looking at these lines, particularly the Opening Ceremony collaboration, I started wondering if the patterns were authentically Native American or if Native American people had any stake in clothes designed to express or imitate their traditional patterns. Put a different way, I wondered if is it problematic to have a major purveyor of a style modeled upon Native American culture designing clothes and accessories for a market (rich hipsters) that excludes many Native Americans?

I started researching Pendleton's relationship with Native Americans and I found a couple of great articles on the Pendleton collaborations by Native American scholars who study Native American fashions. Here are their posts - Native Appropriations' piece "Let's Talk About Pendleton" and Beyond Buckskin's "Pay No Attention to the Man Beneath the Indian Blanket" both acknowledge that the relationship between Pendleton and Native Americans is traditionally positive, but they find it problematic when Pendleton uses Native American designs to produce very high-end fashions marketed to non-Native people and unaffordable to many Native Americans. Read their posts. Neither is what I would call radical - both are very thoughtful and revealing.

10 comments:

oh, little bluebird said...

Those links are really useful- I might share excerpts with You might be interested in these blog posts from threadbared, which does an amazing job overlapping academics, politics, and fashion. Especially since you're someone who buys with a political consciousness!

http://iheartthreadbared.wordpress.com/2010/04/21/linkage-the-feather-in-your-native-cap/

http://iheartthreadbared.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/more-native-appropriations-heritage-capitalism-and-fashion-on-antiques-roadshow/

oh, little bluebird said...

*eek, I meant to say:

I might share excerpts with my students, when we discuss practices and representations in art.

Robert said...

Those links are interesting. Even though I find some of their Native American inspired designs interesting, I don't have any Native American ancestry, so I'd feel really weird wearing them.

Eric said...

@ bluebird - Thanks for sharing those. They're very interesting and very revealing. Sounds like you must teach an interesting class!
@Robert - I feel the same way you do. It is an interesting and even attractive style trend. I don't judge other people who wear clothing inspired by other cultures, but marketed as it is, there's a feeling of "playing dress-up" to the whole thing that makes me, not a Native American, uncomfortable.

Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott said...

Great article. I linked to it in a post. http://palemorningdun.blogspot.com/

CHELSEY JOHNSON said...

Good post & links. Only thing is, most of Pendleton's clothing is NOT made in the USA anymore. You can find plenty of vintage Pendletons made in the USA, but the new stuff? All made in China. (Though you wouldn't know it by the still-premium prices.)

jenloveskev said...

Hey Eric. Great post! I do love all the Pendleton/Opening Ceremony items. I just wore a vintage Pendleton blazer on the blog today.

Eric said...

@ Chelsey - Thanks for the correction. As a vegan I don't buy new wool, so I didn't know that the new stuff was made in China. That's disappointing.

@Jen - I saw! I also really like vintage Pendleton stuff, though it's rarely warm enough to wear it here in AZ.

printed t-shirts said...

Vintage shirts are the best especially if the design is classic. Thank you very much for sharing and have a nice day.