For over 100 years, Pella has been making outerwear that’s as long-lasting as the company itself. Founded in 1907 in Pella, Iowa, the brand specializes in clothes that take a while to break in; jackets and coveralls that practically stand on their own when they first leave the factory. But, the harder you wear ‘em, and the more hell you put ‘em through, the more amenable they get, until, eventually, they become trusted go-tos. Garments you count on, and care about, and happily return to year after year. Pieces you form a relationship with.
And yet, despite Pella’s legacy, and the caliber of its products, the label has remained largely under the radar for much of its existence. Though their history is just as rich, and their offerings are just as sturdy, they don’t enjoy the same renown as many of their competitors. But, what Pella lacks in prestige, it more than makes up for in quality. Simple, dependable, affordable; Pella’s jackets are a great option for anyone looking to get a very long-lasting bang for their buck.
Pella President Robert Klein recently took some time out to discuss the brand’s history, the return of American manufacturing and making clothes that just won’t quit. Here’s what he had to say.
Tell us about Pella’s products.
Currently, products produced in our Iowa factory consist of insulated and unlined work and casual outerwear, including jackets, vests, bibs, coveralls, etc. Many of our outerwear products are made from 100% cotton duck, while a number of others are produced from heavy duty poly/cotton twill. The hallmark of our products is that they are assembled with an emphasis on old-time quality. Many of our customers remark on how long-wearing our products are. This is no accident, as everything we do, from the selection of the components of a garment to the weight of the thread holding everything together is aimed at producing the best quality possible.
While we have imported selected products from offshore in the last 15 years, we have been moving away from that model, and are looking to produce only USA-made products as we go forward.
Though not as well known as some of the bigger workwear brands, Pella has still managed to stay in business for over a century. To what do you attribute the brand’s longevity?
Our ability to adapt to the marketplace.
Any favorite stories, or moments from the brand’s history?
Pella, IA is home to the Pella Tulip Festival, which has been held every spring for many years. Back in the 40s and 50s, my dad, Robert J. Klein, was very involved with the Festival, and volunteered to sew the men’s Dutch costumes in our factory. They were made of simple indigo denim for the baggy Dutch pants, and a very light blue lightweight denim for the shirts and neckerchief. These costumes are still being used today by the Tulip Festival Dutch Dancers. They are over 60 years old!
Over the last few years, there’s been a marked increase in the demand for US-made goods. Why do you think that is?
Consumers have discovered that in a “price is everything” retail economy, quality just isn’t part of the product. They remember when US-made products would last and last. In addition, consumers are very aware of all the jobs that have been moved overseas, and are pointedly willing to pay more for domestically-made goods in hopes that existing US factories can be kept open and that others can be re-established in this country.
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