We’re approaching the midway point of autumn and if the temperatures haven’t dropped where you live, they will soon. So I thought I’d spotlight some jackets from American workwear brand Pella. They operate out of Pella, Iowa and their line of jackets and bibs made from cotton duck is made in their factory in nearby New Sharon–they also have a line of hunting and camo gear that is imported.
Even though Pella is a true workwear brand, I’m going to show some pieces from their Rugged Casual Clothing collection, which basically means you could wear it on or off the jobsite. What attracts me are the prices–they’re affordable, sometimes downright cheap–and clean, classic looks. The jackets I’m spotlighting are all under $100. Like Pointer Brand or Dickies, this stuff isn’t fashion, it’s workwear that’s meant to take a beating and bought by guys who think Daiki Suzuki designs ATVs.
Pella sells their full line online through Rugged Clothing. While most products come in different colors, they only seem to photograph one, so you may want to contact them first if you are unsure of a color
The Lightweight Cordova Jacket #207 that comes in a bunch of colors with a suede-like collar:
The Dearborn Jacket #742 in brown:
Like most workwear, these look like they were designed with a relaxed fit, so you may want to go down a size if you want a slimmer fit. You also may have noticed those prominent Pella labels on the exterior of some of the jackets, and I would assume a seam ripper would be the easiest way to remove those if you don’t like labels–again, I would call to make sure it’s not glued on. Overall, Pella has some nice products that are Made in the USA for a fair price.
Carrie and Matt at Imogene + Willie posted this great TED Talk they recently did talking about the challenges of making clothing in the United States. They also provide some insight on their recent deal with Anthropologie.
The full backstory is on their blog, but Carrie and Matt had a full presentation planned, with PowerPoint slides and all, but it just wasn’t working and they ditched it the night before. They decided to just tell their story, essentially “winging it” and what follows is an honest and inspiring presentation:
The space shuttle Endeavour flew 25 missions around the Earth in its career, orbiting our planet many times.
Its final trip was across the country, from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. There were a few stops along the way, and thousands, if not millions of people got to see the shuttle as it rode on the back of a 747. On the last day, it flew all over the state of California, thrilling everyone who saw it. In fact, the three members of my family were all in different places that day, but we all saw it fly by.
In my life, I was able to see a shuttle landing, a launch, and this flyby. All were truly awe-inspiring and experiences I’ll never forget. That day I saw the shuttle fly by just over a mile away made me proud not only to be an American, but a human as well.
Last week, Endeavour was moved from LAX Airport 12 miles through the city to the museum. It took 15 hours longer than planned, but it was a great and thrilling couple of days for the city. Mission 26 is the story of that 12 mile journey.
I’ve lived my whole life in Southern California, right in the middle of surf culture. The offices of nearly every major surf label are within a 20 minute drive from where I live. In spite of these facts, I’ve never surfed. Bodyboarded a little bit, but any surfer is already rolling their eyes at that phrase.
Still, I appreciate the craftsmanship it takes to make a surfboard and love the look of the classic wood surfboards from the early days of modern surfing. So when I saw wood boards created by Grain Surfboards of York, Maine, I knew I had to learn more.
The Steamer 8′ mini-tanker longboard
The Wherry Fish 6′ – 6’4″ board
The company was started by Mike LaVecchia, a former boat builder who took his love of traditional wood boat-building and transferred those techniques to surfboards. Co-owner Brad Anderson joined Mike soon after and they have grown the business over the past few years. They build boards, sell build-your-own-board kits, and even offer classes at their workshop for those who want the full Grain experience.
The Cider Hill skateboard
The Brixham deck
Unlike the wood surfboards that have been used for ages, Grain Surfboards are not solid wood. Instead the core is hollow with a wood frame for stability surrounded by a wood shell. They offer short and longboards, as well as bodyboards and skateboards.
I always knew the Frye Company as the brand who make the original “motorcycle” boot, as we called it in Southern California when I was growing up–the official name is the Harness boot, if you’re interested. I’ve seen other Frye Company boots and shoes in various stores, but only had a vague idea of the company.
The Harness Boot (aka the motorcycle boot). Still a classic, still intimidating, still Made in the USA.
The Frye Company was started in 1863 by John A. Frye in Marlboro, Massachusetts. For those of you like me who weren’t math majors, that means the company is turning 150 next year. In that time, they’ve supplied our military with boots, the aforementioned motorcycle riders, 60s campus activists, and factory workers who were the company’s first customers.
The Campus boot. Available for men, the ones below are for the ladies–who I think wear this kind of boot better anyway. Adopted by 60s and 70s youth, a pair now resides in the Smithsonian Institute. Also still Made in the USA.
Arkansas Mid Lace. Made in the USA
As you may have read from the photo captions above, Frye still manufactures some of its collection in the US. Cue the obligatory factory-tour video!:
Here’s a few other shoes that caught my eye from their collection. These are produced outside the US, but Frye insists that their factories maintain their standards–”for many brands, these sourcing decisions are determined primarily by cost. However, in the case of Frye, while we certainly do value cost in manufacturing, we are even more driven by the type of hand work, construction and craftsmanship that is the special strength of each of our factories and the ability and willingness of each factory to constantly improve and to develop new and enduring products.” So take that for what you will. I think these still would make a nice wardrobe addition:
The Dakota Mid-Lace
The James Penny loafer
The Locke Lace-Up
And because I’m a sucker for brown sneakers, the Justin Low-Lace
Now, anyone can order these online or look for a local store that carries a particular style. But if it was me and I had a plane ticket to New York, I’d head to Soho and check out the Frye flagship store. I work in visual merchandising, so I’m a sucker for beautifully designed stores, and when I saw the pictures I just knew I had to share them. Awesome space that incorporates the brand’s heritage wonderfully.