katon

Super Member



Any thoughts on Cowichan sweaters? Part of the look?


(1967, courtesy of Mr. Schroder)

REI sold them in 1967. (regrettably with matching tam o' shanter)


(1946, via Ebay)

Eddie Bauer sold Cowichan-knit socks.

Not sure if Cowichan knitwear ever made it East, though. Seems like something L.L. Bean would have stocked, if they'd had the option...

Thoughts?

*Edit: Looks like bulldog (of the much-missed blog, maybe?) asked about these a couple years ago. Any other thoughts?
 
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LL Bean Signature has at least one in the F/W 2010 collection.



The picture came from sartorially inclined, by the way.
Ugh,
Is it possible for menswear to have any more groupthink?

Every single company I see, especially all these new 'heritage' brands has a pair of these front pocket cargo shorts.
Same thing with Chambray shirts, shawl collar sweaters, red-bricked soled shoes etc etc ad nausea.

It's as if they all read the same 30 blogs, and most of those blogs just repost each others stuff, or post shots of someone's new collection.


Anyways, I have a Cowichan sweater, but it doesn't get much use. That's only because it's not the easiest to integrate into my overly-trad wardrobe.
 

Starch

Super Member
A Cowichan sweater is certainly part of "a look," but I don't think it's part of "the look," though I'll admit to a certain degree of doubt as to whether I know what "the look" is anyway.

They used to be de rigeur at the summer camp I went to years ago ... somewhere (can't find it or I'd post it) I have a photo of the entire camp staff, c. 1965, with every single one of them wearing a Cowichan sweater. Of course, every single one was also the authentic item, purchased in Victoria, B.C. and hand-made by real Indians (excuse, me "first nations" or "aboriginal bands," seeing as we're talking about B.C.). Anything that looked approximately the same but wasn't the real deal made you a hopeless poseur.
 

katon

Super Member
I have always believed that they were the inspiration for the Mary Maxim pattern sweaters, and this confirms it https://kickshawproductions.com/blog/?p=1904. In the late 50's and early 60's some easterners took to them. It was not uncommon to see his and hers sweater.
Interesting context. Thanks for the link, C. Sharp!

LL Bean Signature has at least one in the F/W 2010 collection.
Apparently the folks at L.L. Bean are on the same wavelength. :) I do wish they'd consider supporting the genuine article, though. I imagine theirs will be jobbed out overseas.

Ugh,
Is it possible for menswear to have any more groupthink?

Every single company I see, especially all these new 'heritage' brands has a pair of these front pocket cargo shorts.
Perhaps they've all been reading back issues of Backpacker Magazine on Google Books? :icon_smile_big:


(1974)

I wonder who was responsible for them originally? L.L. Bean had some in the 1970s, but I doubt they were the first... An American original, or an alpine import from Europe?

Anyways, I have a Cowichan sweater, but it doesn't get much use. That's only because it's not the easiest to integrate into my overly-trad wardrobe.
It is a bit of an odd duck, I suppose. Sort of a monochrome shawl-collared Fair Isle... anyone out there have any pairing suggestions?

The Dude: Trad Icon? :icon_smile_big:

A Cowichan sweater is certainly part of "a look," but I don't think it's part of "the look," though I'll admit to a certain degree of doubt as to whether I know what "the look" is anyway.
I mean the look that we talk about here. The one whose city style can be exemplified by J. Press and old Brooks Brothers, country style by old L.L. Bean, and all the other shops up and down that spectrum. An Anglophile Americana look. An "Ivy League" look, if you don't mind the term. Or possibly even "Trad", although that one seems to bug people even more for some reason. :icon_smile_big:

They used to be de rigeur at the summer camp I went to years ago ... somewhere (can't find it or I'd post it) I have a photo of the entire camp staff, c. 1965, with every single one of them wearing a Cowichan sweater. Of course, every single one was also the authentic item, purchased in Victoria, B.C. and hand-made by real Indians (excuse, me "first nations" or "aboriginal bands," seeing as we're talking about B.C.). Anything that looked approximately the same but wasn't the real deal made you a hopeless poseur.
It is always a little distressing when a new designer copies the superficial aspects of something while missing what made it interesting to begin with. Perhaps there aren't enough Cowichans in the sweater business anymore to support such a trend? That was the Hudson Bay Company's reasoning, anyhow, when they had a similar decision. Hopefully individuals will consider supporting the native artisans if they have an opportunity, though.
 
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David J. Cooper

Super Member
Interesting. It's something that is part of our heritage in Vancouver and Vancouver Island. I suppose they can look good but are sometimes the sign of somebody stuck in a different era. When mixed with acid washed jeans and faux sealskin boots. This is a look seen quite often in the suburbs of Vancouver during trhe winter.

I know someone is going to tell me that Cowichan is a town in seaside Maine and these sweaters were first knit by a band of Aboriginal Mainers but I know Cowichan and the area where these sweaters come from. We visited there every summer when I was a child. God I sound like a west coast Muffy Aldrich.

During the prelude to the winter Olympics the Bay came up with a sweater that was a copy of the style. The Cowichan band protested, but saw a compromiose when Vanoc agreed to sell the real thing in a small corner of the flagship store in Vancouver.
 

Carisbrooke

New Member
More Cowichan sweaters:

Steve McQueen


Chief Fred Thorne of the Cowichan Indian Council, in traditional dress presenting a Cowichan sweater to Throy L. Perkins, U.S. Consul in Victoria, who accepts on behalf of U.S. President Harry Truman.


Former Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker aka "Dief the Chief".


Mrs. Johnny Bear of the Cowichan Tribe


Authentic Cowichan Sweater sold by Filson in 2007
 

martinchristopher

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
They are great sweaters, worth the price as the real ones are expensive- about 10 years ago I paid about $400 Canadian for mine in Vancouver, now I hear they are about $500. I have noticed they are trendy now- J. Crew, LL Bean Elite line, etc so there are more choices, but the quality may be questionable- if you are serious about one, check Vancouver merchants as that is where the Cowichan's are from.

Good luck.
 

Starch

Super Member
Approximately, anyway ... the Cowichans are actually on Vancouver Island, but I'm pretty sure the sweaters make it to the mainland with authenticity intact.
 

Carisbrooke

New Member
Filson's 2010 Cowichan Sweater is now available. The use of red and green on the 2010 model is unusual. Typically, Cowhichan knitwear uses only natural-colored, undyed yarn. However, red, green, black and white is a traditional color combination on other Cowichan art, so it's interesting to see this combination on a Cowichan sweater.



Description from Filson's website:
Once you've put on this sweater, you'll never want to take it off. Since the late 1800's, the Salish of the Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, B.C., have knitted their famed woolen sweaters. The wool's natural lanolin gives you strength and integrity, providing warmth and water resistance. your sweater is unique: the edition number is on each label. Men's Cowichan sweaters are limited to 250. Heavy enough to be worn as a jacket, this magnificent sweater will last many years and get better with use. The Fall 2010 Cowichan sweater design for men is "Raven, trickster and giver of light." 2-way brass zipper, 2 front pockets. Made in Canada. Dry clean only.
 
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