I had written several blog posts (for my public relations business) about some of my favorite U.S.-made products and brands when I decided to get in on the act.
It was fall 2016, and the holidays were soon upon us. I needed a couple of items that we could produce quickly. I reached out to one of those favorite U.S. brands, Oxford Pennant in Buffalo, N.Y., a designer and manufacturer of wool felt pennants, flags and banners. Oxford’s retro vibe fit well with my image for Stay Apparel Co., which I had been pondering for some time but hadn’t yet launched.
Oxford founders and owners Dave Horesh and Brett Mikoll helped me develop a retro Hershey pennant, on maroon felt with cream-colored band and screen print. It was in our initial lineup when Stay debuted in October 2017. In January 2018, we introduced a USA pennant, made for us by century-old Standard Pennant Co. in Big Run, Pa.
‘Started with a pennant’
Stay’s focus is mostly on tees branded for places: Hershey, Harrisburg, York, Lancaster, Lititz, Happy Valley, Philly, Pennsylvania, USA. But the Stay logo is a flag, and pennants are a perfect accessory for our brand, given that historically they have been one of the best ways to convey a pride of place: of cities and towns; of colleges and sports teams; of events and attractions. (Our Happy Valley tees, in short and long sleeves, feature a pennant design on the front.)
Perhaps you are familiar with the hat brand ’47. The name references 1947, the year that twin Italian immigrant brothers Henry and Arthur D’Angelo started Twins Enterprises in Massachusettts. I knew of Twins because the D’Angelo family for decades has operated a souvenir stand across from Fenway Park, home of my beloved Boston Red Sox.
An October 2018 story in Esquire explained that it wasn’t hats that got the D’Angelos started:
Arthur D’Angelo can’t recall much about his start with the brand, but his son, Bobby, helps translate some of the stories he can recall his dad telling. Namely, that the brand so heavily focused on hats and T-shirts nowadays actually started with a pennant.
“After World War II, the country was a different place,” says Bobby. “My father followed the Freedom Train, selling American pennants. The first one he sold was a Declaration of Independence pennant. Today, it’s all about hats and shirts. In those days it wasn’t; it was completely different back then.”
After the Declaration of Independence pennant came the Red Sox ones. The Red Sox won the American League Pennant in 1946; the brothers thought selling sports pennants might work as well as peddling political ones. So they started ’47 (originally Twin Enterprises). They sold the pennants alongside newspapers and, eventually, baseball caps.
Pennants can put you in a time and a place but are timeless.
I can remember my parents buying me a blue-with-white felt pennant with “Lisbon” printed on it when we attended an open house at Lisbon Elementary School in Maine. I ordered a pennant from the old Philadelphia Firebirds hockey team when I was a kid; it was one of the rigid ones that were popular in the 1970s and, to my great chagrin, arrived folded in an envelope! I gave throwback felt pennants from Philadelphia-based Mitchell & Ness as gifts to a couple newspaper colleagues when they moved on to new jobs.
Pennants can come in different sizes (ours are 7 inches by 21 inches; 9 inches by 27 inches is another popular dimension), but unlike tees they don’t face the challenge of fitting a human form.
Pennants are an inexpensive way to decorate (ours sell for $20), whether pinned to a bulletin board or framed behind glass or sewn to a pillow.
We envision adding more pennants in the future (if you have an idea, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org). Classic wool felt pennants will always have a home at Stay.
Long may they wave.