Monthly Archives: September 2012

Wool on the wharf: the Sea Bags™/ Woolrich collaboration

Founded in 1999, Sea Bags of Portland, Maine is the original purveyor of stylish totes made from recycled sailcloth.

Their totes and accessories are 100 percent recycled, and 100 percent made in the USA. Sea Bags’ manufacturing facility operates on Portland’s historic waterfront, drawing inspiration from the local maritime economy and employing its residents.

When Sea Bags CEO Beth Shissler wanted to take the brand’s signature sailcloth totes into the winter season, she reached out to her favorite heritage brand, Woolrich.

In a recent collaboration between the two made-in-the USA classics, comes a limited edition collection of totes made from handpicked Woolrich wool collected from our fabled Woolen Mill in Woolrich, Pennsylvania, and sailcloth that has been sailed around the world.

Sea Bags’ designers traveled to the Woolen Mill to hand select fabric from the mill’s archives, and give it new life as a Sea Bags tote, dopp kit, or iPad case. The result is a stylish, classic collaboration that celebrates American manufacturing and design creativity.

Shissler took a few moments to answer a few of our questions about how this unique collaboration came to be.

WP: First things first, tell us how you’re able to get your hands on all these recycled sails…

BS: We have a great team and a Sail Acquisition Manager who covers a lot of territory to get the recycled sails. We also trade sails for bags with any individual who has a sail sitting around and would like to find a new use for it.

Why Woolrich?

We love the Woolrich Woolen Mill.  Their rich American history is iconic to us and their quality is unrivaled.

What makes this collaboration special?

B.S. As one of the oldest US factories, they have so much to teach us. We also believe that we bring a fresh new spirit to them. We believe our sails will take the winter out of the wool, and their wool will take the summer out of the sail. We hope to make a timeless classic product that reflects our two brands.

How limited is this limited edition collection?

B.S. This is pretty limited. When the wool is gone the bags are too. We’ve done 3 colorways: Harvest, Lodge and Forest which we chose from the Woolrich factory floor.

If Woolrich had a company sailboat, what would its name be?

B.S. Weft ‘n Warp

What Sea Bag are you currently carrying?

B.S. I just swapped out my current bag to carry the Harvest tote. The colors are perfectly in sync with our Maine fall foliage.

Final thoughts: What do you want Woolrich fans to know about Sea Bags?

B.S. We would love for Woolrich fans to know that we are passionate about our product and our US made heritage. We want to be around as long as Woolrich has and have a whole lot of fun along the way.

To shop the Woolrich/Sea Bags limited edition collection, click here. 


Hudson's Bay blankets–the genuine article

As the oldest continually operating woolen mill in the United States, Woolrich’s manufacturing legacy is deeply rooted in the production of wool blankets. To this day, Woolrich’s blanket collection, including its line of Civil War blankets that sustained union troops since the first conflict, remain in production and popular amongst consumers. In addition, Woolrich’s 180 year-old history includes its unique historical relationship with another historic blanket manufacturer–The Pearce Company.

In the late 1700s, wool blankets were so vital to human survival and comfort that they actually served as currency. Blankets were often traded between the Native Americans and trappers through the Hudson’s Bay Company of England, and distributed in America by the Pearce Manufacturing Company–another Pennsylvania-based mill operation.

Pearce was established in 1805 in Harmony, Pennsylvania by the Harmonite Society. In 1928, Woolrich bought the Pearce Manufacturing Company, and by 1959, the Pearce blankets were fully incorporated into the Woolrich mill operations.

Upon acquisition of the Pearce Company, Woolrich recieved the official license to distribute the blankets in the U.S. The flagship staple of the Pearce Company, the Hudson’s Bay Collection, is proudly distributed by Woolrich to this day, alongside the Fawn Grove collection.

The signature four-stripe, high-quality bed blankets are available in sizes that fit today’s modern bed sizes. A four-point blanket fits a full-size bed, a six-point blanket first a queen and an eight-point blanket fits a king size bed. The legendary 100 percent wool blankets are still made in England with wool collected from sources in England, Wales, New Zealand, and India. To shop Woolrich’s entire collection of woolen blankets, click here.



BLUE– A Portrait of the American Worker: Six questions with photographer Carl Corey

Carl Corey is the accomplished documentary fine art photographer behind BLUE– A Portrait of the American Worker, a collection of images celebrating the essence of American industriousness.

For his subjects, Corey selected members of the American workforce, mostly from manufacturing communities scattered throughout the midwest and northeast, and shot their portraits in their unique professional settings. Many of the fine folks employed here at the iconic Woolrich woolen mill posed as subjects, showcasing the spirit of America’s oldest continually operating woolen mill.

While his latest project isn’t yet completed, Carl took time out to share his thoughts on the state of the American Worker with the Wooly Pulpit.

What drew you to Woolrich, Pennsylvania?

CC: The grand history of the mill plus the fact that the Woolrich name has always been so synonymous with American culture. It is important for me to include in BLUE as many industries as possible and the artisan/craft industry of Woolrich was very attractive.

What are your goals, as an artist, with the BLUE project?

CC: I’m not so sure I’m an artist…maybe more of a documentarian. The only goal I have is to make the public aware of what we had and still do have in the American Worker. Obviously this can not be separated from the MADE IN AMERICA issue, economic concerns, and the social mayhem unemployment causes. My hope is awareness will breed support for the American Worker.

What role does a sense of history play in your selection of subjects?

History is so intertwined in BLUE…there is a sense of skilled labor loss which can only come from a grand history, and also the exemplary subjects such as Woolrich not only portray that grand history but also a present a sense of hope for the tradesmen and tradeswomen, laborers and the American Manufacturer who employs them.

By “BLUE,” do you mean, “Blue Collar?”

CC: Yes, I do.

What is one lasting impression you hope to covey with this collection?

CC: Respect for the American worker and those companies which support them.

What did you take away from your Woolen Mill experience?

CC: A bunch of new friends.

We’re proud to be included in BLUE– A Portrait of the American Worker.  BLUE is self-funded, but if you would like to support Carl’s project you can do so here.

View additional portraits and keep up to date on Carl’s progress on the BLUE Facebook page.  For more information about Carl, visit


Berdan's Sharpshooters encamp in Woolrich

In 1861, after Woolrich had been in business for more than thirty years, shots rang out on Fort Sumter.  Woolrich supplied the Union Army with wool blankets and today stands as the only remaining woolen mill in operation that supplied woolen fabrics to Civil War soldiers.

Wool and warmth have since become synonymous with Woolrich during war times; the company has proudly supplied blankets to the US Armed Forces for every major conflict since the Civil War.

Today, Woolrich manufactures commemorative Civil War Blankets in the same mill it did in 1861 and supplies film studios and re-enactors across the country with the same quality fabrics for uniforms and blankets.

On Saturday, August 25, members of a local Pennsylvania re-enactment group Berdan Sharpshooters Company C, 2nd Regiment staged a Civil War encampment in Woolrich Park.  Locals as well as out-of-state visitors toured the Encampment set up in the center of the park.

Company C, 2nd Regiment, U.S.S.S. is a living history and reenactment group and registered 501(c)(3) educational organization whose mission is to educate the public and preserve the memory of the men who served with the First and Second Regiments of United States Sharp Shooters during the American Civil War.

For more information about the Berdan Sharpshooters, click here