PENDLETON WOOLEN MILLS
SPRING 18, SPRING 19
Creative Director Womenswear
Fashion, Women's Wear, Sportswear
There is no way to live in Portland, Oregon, and not fall in love with this family-owned, local brand. Pendleton has been weaving genuine merino fabrics for generations and to this day still accounts for three-quarters of all US-based wool weaving manufacturing.
I do not exaggerate when I say that a dream came true when I got the opportunity to help them correct the trajectory the womenswear business had been on for over a decade.
Pendleton womenswear had a strong business in the 50s and 60s with major icon status when specifically the 49er jacket was a must-have in every woman's wardrobe. In an interview, Martha Steward admitted she couldn't afford the 49er, but she had to have one and so - as Martha does - just sewed one using Pendleton fabric. Pendleton is utterly committed to their customers. Which brings its own set of challenges especially when you are about to celebrate 70 years of womenswear.
Not only was design 2 months behind on our calendar when I arrived, we also had to shift our target consumer to the new age group of 35 - 55. Obviously, that's quite broad and while I saw the potential for serious 'cool' factor, underscored by a plethora of past and present collabs, we had to shift carefully not to upset the more traditional customer and leadership base.
We were working on 4 deliveries and two separate merchandising stories, one casual with a hint of outdoor, the other classic with a new contemporary twist.
Therefore, the line is quite large and covered a lot of basics, but I brought in some easy storytelling by utilizing a new and very typical jacquard design, the Falcon Cove, that was initiated by the Home (Blanket) Division and using it in two silhouettes: A bomber with contrast color trims to the exterior (gasp!) and a modern coat with overcut shoulders.
But to make the offering stronger, and allow for more accessible price points, we used more simplified motives inspired by the same jacquard on a group of lightweight merino knitwear pieces and a printed version on a Tencel button-up shirt and cropped top.
PENDLETON WOOLEN MILLS
FALL/HOLIDAY 18 & 19
We managed to get caught up with our Spring timelines and were able to start the Fall season on time. None the less, we were faced with another big, fat operational challenge - to launch the women's Fall offering at the same time as the menswear and home divisions. While it made a lot of business sense, it also meant to cut our development timelines by three months total. So, we were off to the races again.
We worked on some big initiatives:
Create silhouettes that were wearable in multiple occasions, to the office, on a trip and on the weekends. Dress up or down was the motto. I also pushed to create less structured and overworked (too many seams) garments to create a beautiful canvas for all jacquard silhouettes.
Own the Blazer. Workwear used to be the biggest category for Pendleton but it had gotten very formulaic and old - we used the Fall season to set up a workwear initiative for the FA19 season.
Capitalize on Sweaters. Sweaters have been and still is the biggest volume driver for Pendleton womenswear (shout out to Lindsay Elbon and Amy Wildshut who work jointly on that category)
Grow the Shirt Category. But instead of just expanding the paid offering, we wanted to make sure to have diversified silhouettes and really use the whole breadth of material we had available.
This season, I was able to start out with the fundamentals by creating a women's design ethos grounded in Pendleton's heritage and iconic design language and a creative direction that span all 6 deliveries.
In addition, we created an overarching color palette that allowed for distinct monthly color stories all while coordinating across the entire season. We continued our work on creating visual stories within each delivery tied together through motif selection and prints and of course color.
We continued working on creating and refining trim, yarn and, material palettes and drilled down on price points to make sure we'd be able to deliver the best product at all price points.
We made it to the finish line on time. FA18 got a standing ovation at the sales meeting, a sales agent who had sold the Portland Collection came back on board and accounts like Anthropology, Backcountry and Urban Outfitters bought inline silhouettes.