Look carefully just below the ad text and you’ll see the Woolmark®. When Pendleton created this ad in the fall of 1964, the Woolmark was very new, having been launched that year. If you know a little about this symbol, it can come in useful from time to time.
A vintage friend was telling about a jacket she had. She was pretty well convinced that it was from the 1940s until she found a little Woolmark tag. Knowing that the symbol did not exist in the 40s led her to the conclusion that her jacket was a very good 1970s representation of 1940s style.
Woolmark is not a brand label; it is a label originally issued by the International Wool Secretariat to identify various quality wool products. The mark was designed by an Italian graphic artist, Francesco Saroglia, and was first used in 1964. The mark indicates that the garment is made from 100% pure new wool. You can find the label on garments not just from Australia, but also from the US, Europe and Japan.
Close-up from above ad
It’s interesting to think back to 1964 and to think about what led to the creation of this mark. A quick look through some vintage 1964 magazines might reveal the story. For some time, chemical companies like DuPont had been working to develop new synthetic fibers. By 1964 DuPont’s Dacron® and Orlon®, American Cyanamid’s Creslan®, Fiber Industries’ Celanese® and Kodak’s Kodel® were major players in the fibers industry. They were also major advertisers in the fashion magazines. So this must have been a time of panic for the manufacturers of natural fiber products. I’m guessing that the Woolmark was the wool industry’s way of try to “brand” itself to better compete with the synthetics.
Pendleton was one of the first US companies to use the Woolmark, and they even put it on their label. It’s a handy way of immediately knowing that a Pendleton product is 1964 or later.
label photo copyright Amanda Legare.
Pendleton ad from 1973
1973 Sakowitz ad
Synthetic fabrics continued to be popular, of course, but into the 1970s, the Woolmark was used even more often. And then I suppose they figured, if we can’t lick them, join them, because in 1971 the Woolblend mark was introduced. A garment with this label is made from fabric that is wool mixed with another – usually synthetic – fiber.
1973 American Wool Council and Calvin Klein ad
Today there are a variety of marks. The Woolmark still indicates 100% pure wool content, the Woolmark Blend logo indicates 50% – 99% wool content, and the Woolblend logo (introduced in 1999) shows a wool content of 30% – 49%. You can see them all at the AWI site.
These marks are administered today by the Woolmark company. Not all garments that contain wool will have the Woolmark, as it is a licensed logo that makers must apply and pay to use.
Woolmark from a pair of recent Ralph Lauren slacks.