Filson Ages Gracefully. | A Continuous Lean.

Filson Ages Gracefully.

Mar 31st, 2014 | Categories: A Conversation With, Jake Gallagher | by Jake Gallagher

Filson 2

The oldest person in the world is 115 years old. Filson is 116.

For a brand to outlive anyone that has ever, or will ever wear their clothes is an impressive feat in and of itself, but what’s more remarkable with Filson is that they seem to be aging in reverse. Sometime in the mid-aughts, as the heritage movement re-discovered Filson’s unflappable wares, the Seattle-based company was (almost unwittingly) thrust into the spotlight once again. And yet, Filson has never strayed from their original ideals, remaining steadfast in their dedication to quality goods that will last for years to come.

With these values in mind, Filson (who is a Paul + Williams client) has evolved their collections and fits ever so slightly as a way to reach a younger market, without ever sacrificing their spirit. Today Filson’s goods are carried in venerable outdoor stores and fashion-forward boutiques alike, as a testament to the brand’s far-reaching audience. We had a chance to speak with Filson’s CEO Alan Kirk about the brand’s storied reputation, its recent resurgence, and why Filson isn’t a “fashion” brand.

ACL: Before we get into the future of Filson, let’s take a look back. In the 116 years since Filson’s inception what has not changed for the brand?

Alan Kirk: We have always been committed to developing built to last products that customers trust and can hand down from generation to generation. And we’ve never stopped innovating. C.C. Filson was an innovator. The Cruiser was such a revolutionary product that 100 years later, the jacket is still one of our top sellers. You all have done a great job of adapting to the times, without losing the spirit of your brand. How have you been able to toe this line while not swinging too far in either direction?

We’ve never stopped focusing on our core customers. Everything we do is directed toward people who refuse to stay indoors. We’ve remained relevant by adapting to the demands of outdoor enthusiasts who can rely on use for product that is developed with purpose.

ACL: Filson’s products are stocked in stores that range from your standard sporting goods store, to independent menswear boutiques throughout the world. What do you believe is the key to the brand’s seemingly universal appeal?

AK: Everything we do is directed at outdoor enthusiasts. What we’ve found is the more Filson we are – the better we serve our core audience – the more appealing we are to everyone else. That means working in close collaboration with experts who rely on our goods in the field. Talking to them during every step of development ensures that nothing is superfluous and everything we put into our products is addressing our customers’ needs.

ACL: What has been most exciting thing about Filson’s rise in popularity over the past decade or so?

AK: It’s been exciting to see the values on which this company was built become more important to a growing number of consumers over the last decade. People are more interested in products that are made in the USA, can be fixed rather than thrown away and that are made with the finest materials available.

Lookout

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ACL: Could you talk a little bit about the recent unveiling of the Seattle fit, and what lead you all to create this trimmer fit?

AK: The Seattle Fit was born out of customer feedback. Our original fit was developed for workers who needed room for heavy layering. For years, customers have been telling us they wanted another option, a more streamlined fit that can accommodate regular layering.

ACL: In the recent past you all have worked with some pretty prominent fashion designers, is this something that you would consider doing again?

AK: We’re always open to working with people in the industry who share our values. We also have a network of professionals that act as Filson Ambassadors– hunters, fishermen, photographers etc. – whom we are constantly working with to develop new products and improve our existing line.

ACL: And where do you see Filson fitting in in the sphere of contemporary men’s style?

AK: Filson isn’t a fashion brand. Each of our pieces is developed to serve a specific purpose. What we’ve found is that when you develop for function, the results can be visually appealing, too.

ACL: For this latest collection where did you draw inspiration from?

AK: Our spring products were developed to be used in every season, every day, in any field. They’re lightweight and versatile, so they can be worn on their own in the spring and as a layer in colder weather. Of course, they’re made to our century-old standard of excellence, so they must be able to be worn hard, every day, and get better every year.

ACL: Going forward what can we expect from Filson?

AK: We’re constantly looking for new places to apply our core values: Built to last, better with age, Made at Filson. We’re very excited about our upcoming partnerships, which I’ll tell you about just as soon as I can.

Filson

Comments: 13

13 Comments to “Filson Ages Gracefully.”

  1. David Wilder
    on Mar 31st, 2014
    @ 6:18 PM

    Three cheers for Made-in-USA consistency and innovation!

  2. mattprovidence
    on Apr 1st, 2014
    @ 12:01 AM

    While I applaud the slimming of many of the garments (and more options in black), the “seattle fit” shirts and jackets simply don’t fit those over 6 feet and the company has eradicated many of their “Tall” fits. At 6’2″ (not all that tall!), many of the tops barely reach the top of my belt. I did far better in years past. I hope they refine the “seattle fit” and offer “tall” or “long” as an option…

  3. thecoastisclear
    on Apr 1st, 2014
    @ 12:31 AM

    Filson is one of the best brands out there. I love every Filson product I own. The decision to spend a few extra bucks to own a product that is made in the states and will last the rest of my life has always been a no-brainier. Thanks for spreading the good word!

  4. vanderleun
    on Apr 1st, 2014
    @ 2:01 AM

    Here in Seattle we all have a very warm place in our hearts for Filson. Here’s to the next 116 years.

  5. James Phinney Baxter White
    on Apr 1st, 2014
    @ 7:51 AM

    “We’re very excited about our upcoming partnerships”– I want to be on this list:)

  6. Jon
    on Apr 1st, 2014
    @ 12:47 PM

    I agree with mattprovidence. At 6’4″ I find their Seattle fit too short and boxy. I could get a size down, but sleeve length would be a problem.

  7. chuck
    on Apr 1st, 2014
    @ 10:05 PM

    Ive spent many an occasion in the flagship retail store, I have come to know their products quite well – and have a closet full of the luggage- It perplexes me how they have come up with many recent designs.. and it often perplexes those that work FOR the company..

    Take the 72 hour bag .. great idea.. but its more like a 14 hour bag.. why they used the smaller briefcase makes no sense.. Alot of their “new lines” are goofy mixes of materials.

    As well – have you ever tried to zip one of the vests into the applicable coats? They never fit properly (ie collar of vests are often too big – they dont sit flush in the collar of the coat – the zippers bunch out at the top ..) Barbour has mastered this.
    Seattle fit – exactly as mentioned above – supposed to be a slim fit.. but end up being more akin to “petite male.”

  8. Kevin
    on Apr 2nd, 2014
    @ 1:34 AM

    Jon and mattprovidence: get the fuck over it.

  9. G
    on Apr 2nd, 2014
    @ 8:34 AM

    Easy Kev.

  10. Erik
    on Apr 4th, 2014
    @ 6:31 AM

    A great review. I like the seattle look and fit. I’ve been looking for this style jacket. Can the article writer please advise names of the other garments inside the TIN CRUISER jacket, in the last photo?

  11. Jacob
    on Apr 6th, 2014
    @ 6:35 AM

    At six-four and 230 I really enjoy the Seattle fit even when layered with two shirts and a sweater. I have really long arms but think the sleeves fit well. I think the Seattle fit fit exactly as advertised. A great modern cut on timeless classics. The only problem I have with the Seattle fit is that when layered it is snug on my forearms sometimes. Overall a 9.5. Yes I will buy again.

  12. Ben
    on Apr 7th, 2014
    @ 6:59 PM

    I grew up in Alaska. I remember going to thrift stores often times and it was like going hunting – you never knew what treasure you might walk home with. As a kid I remember being drawn to flannels, and I got to where I could recognize a Filson flannel by mere touch of the fingers – taking a peak into the shirt to look at the Filson logo was just a bonus. Filson is good stuff.

  13. Tom
    on Apr 14th, 2014
    @ 11:26 PM

    “Filson isn’t a fashion brand. Each of our pieces is developed to serve a specific purpose.”

    Really?. Take, for example, the $600+ ’1912 Cruiser Shirt’, recently released. What specific purpose does it serve? The wooden box and “envelope containing documents of historical interest” seem to pander to heritage-chic more than their core users, while the design, with its myriad small pockets and pullover design, isn’t exactly the most functional. All of which is fine…so long as we don’t kid ourselves into thinking filson is still primarily for rough outdoor work.

    I love filson (and own bag and jacket) but I wish they could be honest about what they’ve become. That said, I’m happy to see that core items, like the tin cruiser and the mackinaw vest, haven’t been altered or subjected to the price hikes found across the rest of their line.