Another Vintage Dating Tool – The Woolmark

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.

20 Comments

Filed under Collecting, Vintage Clothing

20 responses to “Another Vintage Dating Tool – The Woolmark

  1. These vintage dating tools are so fascinating – and helpful! Thank you for pulling this info together for us…
    – Susan

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  2. KeLLy Ann

    oh my, did I finally find you?
    Is this your new site?
    The old one had me blocked {bravenet}
    anyhoo, glad to have found you~
    again, I love your fashion history lessons. “}

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  3. Susan, it’s obvious that I love stuff like this too!

    KeLLy Ann, I can believe you were blocked, and it’s because of like nonsense that I’m here now, and liking it a lot! I’m so glad you finally re-found me.

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  4. Em

    Super–wonderful information to know when I’m haunting thrift stores…

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  5. Posts like this one make me a devoted follower of this blog. Thank you for all the great information & resources!

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  6. Well, i’m always looking for more of these little hints, so stay tuned!

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  7. I find lots of Pendleton garments here in Pensacola but have such a hard time dating them! I was a little confused about the Woolmark label. If it has the copyright sign by it, does that mean it’s from the 90s?? It seems that Pendleton really hasn’t changed its label much over the years!

    Anyway, I was thinking of you and your vintage dating tips while I was out shopping yesterday! Wouldn’t I just love to have a “Vintage Traveler” handbook I could carry around with me. (hint, hint)

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  8. Becca, No the copyright symbol is also on Amanda’s 1960s label. It’s just not in the ads. I tried finding it in the US Trademark database, but could not locate the symbol – just the word “Woolmark”.

    I really should compile all the little tips into a pdf file, but then I’d have to learn how to do a pdf!

    As for Pendleton, their menswear facebook page has a great list of the older labels, and from that you can see the changes are small. That is why the woolmark is so important when looking at Pendleton. I think they still use a version of that label on their menswear. The womenswear is very different. They started doing updates to to the women’s label in the 60s.

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    • One way to do a PDF is to pretend like you’re going to print the document and instead “save as a PDF” That worked on our macintosh but haven’t yet figured it out on our PC. There’s also a website called box.net that will let you share files like that online. http://www.box.net/pricing

      But then, that’s a whole different conversation from the Pendleton label. 🙂 The blazer I found was super cute and the label looked just like the 1960s label but the materials/print on the dry clean label really made me think it was either 90s or late 80s.

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      • BTW, I went ahead and bought that Pendleton blazer and I LOVE it! Just recently found a Pendleton pleated skirt and the label is definitely modern. Guess all those Pendletons I was seeing WERE vintage after all!!

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  9. That’s great! Nothing like a nice piece of vintage.

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  10. Gary Giglio

    Your site was the first to provide any hint of how to date my Pendelton Blankets…thanks. Maybe you can answer my questions about them or send me in the right direction. Cleaning my Aunt and Uncles home this weekend, I came across two Pendelton Blankets, pre-1964, both appear to be in their original packaging (clear plastic view window, rectangular plastic, zippered containers appx 16″L x 12″ w x 4″ d). Neither has ever been used and both have their original paper based label, stapled to the material. The firs is labeled Highland #805 Countryman Plaid, #8 and is 52″ x 70″. The second is labeled Highland Color No. 349, Z-322 and is also 52″ x 70″. Each blanket also has a 12″ x 10″ x 1″ foam filled plastic pillow. One has an original Pendleton price tag of $16.

    Anyhow, before I star using them I wanted to know if there is any value associated with them. Thanks. Gary

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  11. Terrific information about Pendelton and the woolmark. Thank you!
    Cynthia

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  12. So, has someone linked to this post today, because is is getting a lot of traffic.

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  13. Simon Crowfoot

    Great info Time Traveller, i have just bidded on a Pendleton jacket on ebay and my gut feeling was right , and whn i googled and looked at this site it was as i thought and from the 50’s with that yellow label. Thanks so much for the fantastic info. and knowing about the woolmark 1964 date. good to store away for future reference, as a lot of the Pendleton items on ebay are being advertised as 50’s when they have the woolmark on the label.and must be from 64 onwards
    regards Simon from New Zealand.

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  14. michele wright

    I always come back to this post when dating pendletons- so helpful!!

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  15. Suzy Piatt

    Have you ever seen a Pendleton label in a pocket? I have a coat with the label sewn in the pocket, but I am wondering if it is a true Pendleton. The label is pre woolmark too.

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