About Woolrich

Wool gets the little black dress treatment at Woolrich's Fall 2011 show.

Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

The world of outdoor clothing has a sporty yet design-conscious contender in the Woolrich brand. For nearly two centuries, the mill-cum-fashion house has spun wool into fashion gold, creating durable pieces that also manage to look good. The Woolrich customer recognizes quality but may be a rugged outdoorswoman sporting the latest high-tech fabric blend to scale Everest or the urban dweller donning a charming checked dress -- based on a vintage blanket pattern -- to grab a latte.

Background

In 1830, John Rich, a British immigrant, built a humble mill in the town of Plum Run, Pennsylvania. He took his products to the streets, strapping a cart to a mule and peddling wool socks, blankets and yarn to the town's lumberjacks. Within 15 years, business was booming, and he moved shop to Chatham Run, where the water flowed more freely, and the Woolrich brand's rapid expansion birthed the new town of Woolrich.

Woolrich Expands

Lumberjacks and other people seeking warmth and comfort during freezing winters can still score woolen socks as well as checked shirts, hunt coats, the railroad vest and the legendary Civil War blankets as part of the Woolrich label's Heritage Collection. However, part of the brand's booming success concerns its expansion into the world of outdoor clothing and related gear and accessories. Sweaters, shirts, cargo pants and jackets come in wool as well as fleece, cotton chamois, denim and flannel. Amp up the cozy quotient with super-soft pajamas, slippers, robes, blankets, bedding, throws and rugs. A home accessories line offers decor, outdoor furniture, bathroom accessories, mirrors and lighting.

Woolrich Chic

It's not all about stodgy tweeds and classic tartan plaid in the Woolrich world. While still maintaining high quality, Woolrich designers have played with the patterns and fabrics that made the company famous. Rugged clothes suitable for backpacking or working outdoors may feature geometric squares that have mod flair. The most basic of duffel bags gets an update with jaunty stripes. Traditional tartan looks ever so modern on a scarf.

The Rockin' Treatment

One of the most surprising places for the Woolrich label to show up is on the classic rocker gear of high-tops. In 2008, Woolrich jumped into the mosh pit with Converse to produce Chuck Taylor All Stars in classic black and red plaid. The shoe's black rubber toecap, rather than the more typical white, adds a punk exclamation point to the shoe.

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