This is a company after all that started in 1909 making blankets and just blankets, at its original factory in Pendleton. It didn’t venture into clothing until 1924, producing a wool shirt for men. After that bold step, it would be 25 years, in 1949, before it would produce its first women’s clothing.The family-owned company is now in its sixth generation of family participation, and more collaborations and product innovation will likely be part of the future, said company president Mort Bishop III, a cousin of Charles Bishop.Mort Bishop is sitting at a large glass conference table at the company’s corporate headquarters at 220 N.W. Broadway Ave. near the Pearl District.
He’s flipping through a stack of photographs showing examples of Pendleton collaborations over the past eight years. The meeting room is sensory-overload stuffed with examples — mugs, dolls, luggage tags, trinkets, dozens of blankets, rugs and more.One of the photos shows an Airstream Travel Trailer. As part of the National Parks Collection, Pendleton partnered with Airstream to produce 100 trailers with Pendleton interior and exterior details.Pendleton has partnered with Nike on several shoe projects, including one for Nike’s N7 Native American line for which a blanket also was produced. Other footwear partners have included Vans, Ugg and Dr. Marten’s.
Pendleton even produced four Star Wars-themed blankets to coincide with the 2015 release of „Star Wars: The Force Awakens.“The partners usually come to Pendleton with ideas, not the other way around, and the collaborators are chosen carefully, he says.“Collaboration wasn’t even in our vocabulary,“ before a Vans representative from parent company VF Corp., the brand behemoth, approached Pendleton eight years ago with an idea, Bishop said.“Pendleton had always depended on ourselves,“ he said. „Working with someone else was different for us. It was a leap of faith.“But it’s clear Bishop, 64, who began working for the company when he was 27 years old having spent five years working in New York City for Lord & Taylor and Bloomingdale’s, is intrigued with ideas that bring a different perspective to a Pendleton plaid.