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  • FILSON - A Story of Stubbornness
  • Christopher Pickings

FILSON - A Story of Stubbornness

Alaska Outfitters - Klondike Gold Rush 1897
"To our customers: if a man is going North, he should come to us for his outfit, because we have obtained our ideas of what is best to wear in that country from the experience of the man from the North -- not merely one -- but hundreds of them. Our materials are the very best obtainable, for we know that the best is none too good and that quality is of vital importance. You can depend absolutely upon our goods both as to material and workmanship."

These were the words of C. C. Filson in his 1914 catalogue and they pretty much sum up the brand as it still remains today. 

In 1897, Filson opened C.C. Filson's Pioneer Alaska Clothing and Blanket Manufacturers, specialising in goods to outfit the stampeders to the Klondike Gold Rush. His timing couldn't have been better as thousands of men headed North to search for their share of the riches buried in the frigid landscape. Staying close to his customers and catering for their specialist needs, he provided clothing and equipment at a time when it was not just a matter of choice, but of survival.

This reputation for quality, fit for purpose products continued long after the gold rush ended, as Filson began focussing on other outdoorsmen such as hunters and loggers, to bring them rugged products that would stand up to the environments in which they were used. Items such as the Cruiser Shirt and Tin Cloth Jacket were patented in 1914 and are still produced today, having also influenced the style in many of Filson's best selling garments.

Filson Catalogue Images

For us, as you can imagine, this commitment to quality resonates rather well. Not only using the best materials, but also providing a guarantee for every piece of merchandise, shows great pride and honesty in the products produced. The fact that they have remained in Seattle for the last 120 years and still make 90% of their products there shows that they've stubbornly stuck to their guns and stayed true to the founders words. Speaking of which, here's a few more from 1914:

"The goods we quote must not be confounded with the cheap and vastly inferior grade with which the market is over-run. Such goods are not only useless for the purpose for which they are intended, but the person wearing them would be better off without them."

Clearly he saw the onset of mass production and cost cutting in manufacture quite early in the piece!

Filson Bag

In our opinion, you can't go past a Filson bag for a good example of their ruggedness and good quality. Most are produced in 22oz heavy drill cotton, with strong bridle leather straps and handles; the construction is solid and the hardware is strong and functional. Simply put, they get better with age and last a long time. Actually, the famous slogan used for these pieces of hard wearing luggage is this: "Two or three years to break in, three or four decades to wear out". Having owned one myself for almost 9 years, I can wholeheartedly attest to the accuracy of this statement.

Our range of Filson bags is now available online for the first time and there'll be a garment delivery heading our way in time for the cooler weather - take a look - you won't be disappointed....

 

  • Christopher Pickings