Cowichan knitwear?

Discussion in 'Andy's Trad Forum' started by katon, Aug 1, 2010.

  1. katon

    katon Super Member

    Christmas Island

    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...


    *Edit: Looks like bulldog (of the much-missed blog, maybe?) asked about these a couple years ago. Any other thoughts?
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2010
  2. C. Sharp

    C. Sharp Super Member

    United States
    Johnson City
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2010
  3. Memphis88

    Memphis88 Senior Member

    LL Bean Signature has at least one in the F/W 2010 collection.


    The picture came from sartorially inclined, by the way.
  4. Thom Browne's Schooldays

    Thom Browne's Schooldays Advanced Member

    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.
  5. jamgood

    jamgood Advanced Member

  6. Starch

    Starch Super Member

    United States
    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.
  7. katon

    katon Super Member

    Christmas Island
    Interesting context. Thanks for the link, C. Sharp!

    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.

    Perhaps they've all been reading back issues of Backpacker Magazine on Google Books? :icon_smile_big:


    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?

    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:

    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:

    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.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2010
  8. David J. Cooper

    David J. Cooper Senior 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.
  9. Carisbrooke

    Carisbrooke New Member

    British Columbia
    Some famous knockoffs of Cowichan sweaters:

    Marilyn Monroe



    The Big Lebowski


    Starsky & Hutch




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