Introducing: Dehen 1920, Portland-made outerwear

Dehen 1920 Varsity Jackets

Dehen was founded in 1920 by a German immigrant, William Peter Dehen, who moved to the States in 1903. After holding several jobs at knitting factories on the West coast, and smuggling liquor from Canada during the Prohibition (side business for which he did a short stint in jail), Willam Dehen started his own business which boomed until the Depression hit. When the bank foreclosed his factory, he paid a night time visit to the facility and moved all the equipment to his house basement where he kept making his products, selling them door to door, sometimes accepting food as payment. By 1936, his business was back on track, as school sweater and work apparel orders were piling up.

Noteworthy fact: the Dehens hired Otto Rutherford, an African American worker at a time when it was still newsworthy to do so and he ended being a master knitter and played a part in getting a key anti-discrimination bill passed by the Oregon legislature

While the US textile market was starting to get flooded with cheap, disposable, Asian made goods, Dehen survived by focusing on quality and craftsmanship and customers looking for custom manufacturing as well as exceptional service.

Dehen 1920 is the retail line of Dehen Knitting Company and it offers reproductions of original pieces manufactured during the past 94 years, even though the length and patterns have been updated for a more contemporary fit (learn more here).

The varsity jackets below feature Pendleton 24 oz melton wool, American bison leather sleeves and pocket welts, 100% worsted wool trims, a quilted lining and a snap front closure. Prices are high (over $500 for a jacket) but it's definitely on my bucket list of things to get. I've noticed they have no retailers in France so I guess that will be my opportunity to shine if I ever decide to open my own store (my not-so-secret dream).

I'll take these over a Coach bag any time.


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