Filson: 120 Years of Unfailling Goods

Text by: Camille Domon

. Filson: 120 Years of Unfailling Goods

We arrived in Seattle on a sunny Friday morning, a rarity for the rain-soaked West Coast. After a must-stop at the first-ever Starbuck’s, we went to Filson’s head office. There, we were immersed in the rich world of a brand that, true to the style of the city lodged between the mountains and the sea, blends urban and the outdoors to perfection.

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A Look Back: 120 Years of Experience

Filson traces their origins back to the 1890’s, when Clinton C. Filson opened a clothing shop in Seattle, then the starting point for prospectors heading to the Gold Rush. Adventurers leaving for Alaska or the Yukon frequently met difficult conditions, so Filson made clothing of especially tough materials. Praised for the high quality of the products, Filson’s popularity grew quickly. Over the years they began making workwear for woodsmen and railway workers, birthing the iconic Filson Cruiser, a jacket still offered today.

Today, Filson offers a wide range of durable, tough products for those who love Nature, whether through their trade or their pastimes. From classic plaid-flannel to waxed jackets, the brand’s signature goods are made from trademarked materials renowned for their quality. 

Down Cruiser 

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Northwest Wool Shirt

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Journeyman Insulated Jacket

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Watch Cap

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There was no ignoring their history during our visit to their HQ. Inside the impressive flagship shop everything is imprinted with the Filson DNA. Meticulously elaborate, the curated décor is a savvy blend of historical artifacts and local artisans’ works. In all honesty it felt like being in a museum as much as a boutique. All the elements on display, both modern and historical, represent what the brand is today.

Proudly Made in the USA.

After the boutique we visited the first floor, where bags, one of the most important lines for Filson, are manufactured. It’s an impressive beehive of activity buzzing to the rhythm of sewing machines. There are about 85 workers here, making 400-500 bags daily according to the given model. A specialist team focusses only on Filson’s most popular bag: the Original Briefcase. From first designs to final product, through manufacturing and samples, everything is handmade on-site.

The vast majority of their products are proudly made in the US. In fact, a second manufacturing workshop for outdoor garments and leather-cutting is three streets away. For Filson, making things domestically has its drawbacks, but the tradeoffs in quality control, local design, and brand building is well worth it all.

Ranger Backpack

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Original Briefcase

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Duffel Medium

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Twill Padded Laptop Briefcase

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Heritage and Innovation

Proud of their expertise and reputation in the field, Filson has consistently refined their products, updating and upgrading them. The result is a position of pre-eminence in the North American outdoor field. When your brand is as storied as Filson’s, innovating while respecting your heritage can be a challenge. They’ve vigorously embraced new projects, diversifying their catalogue. Aude, their Lead Designer, showed us pieces from their new women’s collection. We were pleasantly surprised to find cuts and designs tailored to women while retaining practical aspects needed for top performance. Stay tuned, as the collection should arrive at Altitude Sports in the next little while.

 

Two days makes for a whirlwind tour, but we left Seattle deeply impressed by Filson. From an immaculately-curated boutique to impeccable manufacturing, from exciting concepts to embracing tradition, we discovered a brand proud of their origins, their identity, and the quality of their products. After all, as they say at Filson, ‘Comfort, protection and durability never go out of style.’

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