04 April 2013
The Dude... in '68
Inspiration for the Dude?
A 1968 Esquire piece on the Monterrey Pop Festival looked innocent enough. Grainy Tri-X images of Joplin, Hendrix and Dylan fill oversized 11x14 pages along with descriptions of pot smoking and free love. I have to tell you, it is one of my great joys to read the old Esquire. Not only can you find great writing but it's a bottomless pit of inspiration and I'm far from first to make that discovery.
Tucked in a side column of, "Anatomy of a Love Festival" is a small B&W shot of a 'hippie' wearing a familiar cardigan sweater. Maybe I'm the only who sees it but the man bears an an uncanny resemblance. Jeff Dowd has been accepted as inspiration for the Dude and that may be so -- Charater wise. Did the Coen Brothers read this old Esquires or was it just a costume designer? I guess we'll never know.
Thanks to Steven Tater of Ohio Knitting Mills we do know the origins of the sweater:
"The Dude's sweater was made by Winona Knitting Mills, in Winona, MN under contract to Pendleton. It was originally based on a Chief Joseph blanket design from Pendleton, and a big seller for the company. It was in production from the late 60's through the early 80's or so. Winona made a number of knitwear items for Pendleton, but most of the sweaters for Pendleton were made by the Ohio Knitting Mills in Cleveland, Ohio; whose founders were partners in the Winona mill starting in 1947. We manufactured hundreds of styles of knitwear for the Portland label starting in the mid-sixties, and continued to work closely with them until around 2003, when they finally took all of their production off-shore."