the beach boys, pendleton shirts & california surf culture….
Before they were “The Beach Boys”, the legendary surf-rock band of the 1960s had another name. Would you believe it was… The Pendletones?
In the 1950s and 60s, surfing and surf culture took Southern California by storm. Before the advent of neoprene wetsuits, however, surfers had to come up with a way to stay warm in the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean: they began slathering their bodies in petroleum jelly (vaseline) under swim trunks and Pendleton wool shirts. Even outside the water, the shirts became a trendy style staple worn over khakis or white jeans.
In 1961, brothers Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson, along with their cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine, formed the band that would become The Beach Boys. Although most of the band members were not surfers themselves, Dennis Wilson suggested the group write songs about surfing and the Southern California lifestyle it had inspired. Mike Love suggested the name “The Pendletones”, a playful nod to the Pendleton shirts that had become emblematic of the lifestyle. Although the band’s name would eventually change, their uniform didn’t, and the blue check “Surf Plaid” Pendleton shirts appeared on many Beach Boys album covers.
We love a fun and unexpected Oregon fashion story! Read our post about Italian designer Emilio Pucci’s Portland connection here.