For the last 24 years of my life (so far), I have worked for OOCC, better known as Woolrich, Inc. In the late 1820’s John Rich, and his close friend Daniel McCormick, sailed over the Atlantic from England to America with the desire to replicate the mill in England their forefathers built and prospered for years. The English mill was surrounded by sheep that were shorn every spring and the wool was processed in their mill to produce wool products (blankets, socks, and clothing), selling them to “country folk” in the region. From royalty to people like you and I have purchased the woolen products for use in outdoor activities in the English renounced environment.
John and Daniel settled in central Pennsylvania in what became “Happy Valley”. The pristine area had many similarities to the “Old Country”. One consistent thing was the outdoor lifestyle filled with forests full of hard wood trees for the building of watercraft. The rivers running through the area had a destination of the famous ship-building bay on the Chesapeake Bay. Cutting the trees and prepping their trunks to travel down the rivers for over 200 miles was their vocation.
The foresters, loggers and trappers were hard working people in the lumber industry needing tough outdoor clothing for the work and weather they challenged every day. Their past time was hunting for their food that their families needed to survive the fall/winter climate. Thus, they were the original Outdoorists.
They replicated their English woolen mill here in Pennsylvania. Building their mill meant building a town for the workers. By chance, they named this mill town Woolrich, thus creating the first Original Outdoor Clothing Company in 1830. By 1843, as the Woolrich Mill developed and expanded, John Rich bought out Daniel McCormick and, with one of John’s sons, becoming co-owners. They became the oldest vertically integrated woolen mill in the existing United States “(from sheep to shirt)”.
The chronology of Woolrich, as a true outdoor manufacturer, parallels the growth of America as we all know of that history. Below is a timeline of “The Original Outdoor Clothing Company”:
1830- Developed a Woolen Mill and established Woolrich, Inc.
1843- John Rich bought out Danial McCormick as Woolrich grew and became the first woolen mill in America.
1850- John Rich brought his 3 sons into the Company.
1854- They designed and developed The Original Hunt Coat and matching Knickers named “Pennsylvania Tuxedo”.
1861- The Civil War began and Woolrich made wool uniforms and wool blankets for the Union Army.
1870- Woolrich designed a wool pattern, buffalo plaid, that became the first camouflage for hunters.
1890’s- Migration West for America’s growing population expanded Woolrich’s availability of their consistent quality wool products beyond the Mississippi River.
1914- World War One was trial ground for Woolrich to develop wool products with a lighter weight gauge to meet the military standard for uniforms around the World.
1927- The growth of leisure-wear like woolen bathing suits, woolen golf pants and woolen baseball uniforms gave Woolrich a new platform for those partaking in the “Roaring 20’s” new lifestyle activities.
1939- Woolrich outfitted Admiral Byrds’ expedition to Antartica and continued to refine wool fabrics to meet the new standards for explorers around the World.
1953- Woolrich developed specialized wool clothing and accessories for the Edmond Hillary and Tenzing Norgay (Sherpa Guide) successful climb of Mt. Everest.
1950’s-1990’s Woolrich started focusing on marketing via movies (Shane- 1953, Dumb and Dumber- 1994) and TV (All in the Family- 1970’s, Northern Exposure- 1990’s).
1990’s- Present- The Outdoor Industry became one of the fastest growing parts of our economy choosing to build collaborative ventures where Woolrich, Columbia, The North Face, Patagonia, and many more supported technical gear and clothing research as outdoor challenges developing for those challenging records existing at the time. Safety and Sustainability guided the industry throughout to protect Outdoorists as they “reach for the unreachable”.
Woolrich is a family owned and operated Outdoor Manufacturer. The core of who they are, and have been for 188 years, is a flagship for Outdoor Retailers and Outdoorists. This Industry is a 787 billion dollar part of the American Economy. They have gone “global” in a time when Nationalist are attempting to shrink and protect their sovereign cultures. It has not impeded the Outdoor Industry from embracing Outdoorists worldwide. Woolrich continues its responsibility to the venture for all of us.
Below is a link featuring the history of the Woolrich in more detail: