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Despite its European origins, plaid developed distinctly American incarnations. Pennsylvania’s Woolrich Woolen Mills first made a buffalo plaid (red and black checked) shirt during the 1850s, and Oregon’s Pendleton Woolen Mills became known for its plaids starting in the 1860s. The association with early 20th-century outdoorsmen and loggers conjures visions of lumberjacks and the fabled giant, Paul Bunyan, in plaid flannel shirts. For many, plaid has come to symbolize rugged masculinity and wholesome American heritage.The newest incarnation of the classic lumberjack is known as the “urban woodsman,” and is just one brand of the 21st-century hipster. This look necessitates the flannel, boots, and beard of yesteryear, combined with a modern lifestyle.
Gift of Barbara Thatcher Williams, 2006.28.16. Featured in "Mad for Plaid" Exhibit.