Woolrich John Rich & Bros
Woolrich's history runs parallel to America's own history, alongside the endless train tracks that were built in Pennsylvania in the 19th century.
In 1830, John Rich established his first wool factory. Towards the end of the 19th century the demand for labor to build steam engines and rail cars demanded more workers, and the growing labour force needed clothing to keep them comfortable and well protected against harsh weather conditions. It was enough to make the wheels of commerce turn including the spinning wheels at John Rich's Woolen Mill.
For the first half of the 19th century, the Woolrich wool factory produced both finished garments and unfinished fabrics. In 1930, Woolrich celebrated its first centenary : to this day it is a successful company with 260 employees.
As Woolrich had done during the civil war, the company geared up its woolen mill to support the war effort by producing blankets and uniforms for the armed forces. In the meanwhile Woolrich continued to expand and diversify its product range. During the 1950s and 1960s, Woolrich products featured blankets and basic outdoor wear, including socks, mittens and wool outfits for hunting, skiing, and other outdoor sports. In its period catalogues, together with the flannel shirt that have made Woolrich famous worldwide, we find hunting coats, body warmers and woolen blankets.
With the diffused economic well-being of the 1960s , despite the general decline of most woollen factories, Woolrich’s growth was in full expansion.
Evolution has been the key to Woolrich’s success: rather than relying solely on its past, Woolrich has been able to actively scour new markets.
The Chamois shirt – one of the most popular garments produced by the company was introduced in 1969. This cotton combed shirt represented the new found interest in performing fabrics, that were light, strong and were just as suitable for leisure pursuits and for more extreme outdoor activities. It was in 1972 that the Original Arctic Parka was introduced for the first time, this garment would become par excellence the down parka.
The Arctic Parka was initially chosen by the workers working on the construction of oil pipes in Alaska and with the passing of years the Arctic Parka became increasingly popular throughout the world.
During the 1980s , Woolrich used new materials such as Gore Tex® and Cordura® to enhance its performance.