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- rugged quality for over 100 years
Born in 1850, C. C. Filson inherited his father's
pioneer spirit and love of the outdoors. After homesteading in Nebraska and
roaming the country as a railroad conductor, he moved to the small city of
Seattle, Washington in the 1890's.
Filson's timing couldn't have been better. By 1897, the Great
Klondike Gold Rush was on, and thousands of fortune hunters were stampeding into
Seattle, headed north. Armed with a strong work ethic, a reputation for honesty,
and several years' experience operating a small loggers' outfitting store, C. C.
Filson was ready to stake his claim to fame.
"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."
C.C. Filson, 1914 Catalog
The Gold Rush Years: 1897-1899
In 1897, Filson opened C.C. Filson's Pioneer Alaska
Clothing and Blanket Manufacturers, specializing in goods to outfit the
stampeders to the Klondike Gold Rush.
Stories of harrowing experiences in the Yukon were widely
reported. The diary of Hume Nisbet, 1897 painted this picture: "Try to
recall your sensations on the coldest night you have ever known: try to
intensify the most bitter ice blast that has ever pierced your marrow by a
thousandfold; even then you will not be able to realize spring in the Chilkoot
Canyon, far less midwinter on the Klondike."
It was for these terrible conditions that Filson designed his
goods. He owned his own mill and manufactured Mackinaw clothing, Mackinaw
blankets and knit goods, as well as selling boots, shoes, moccasins and sleeping
bags specially designed for the frigid North. Filson kept in close contact with
his customers, improving his goods to meet their specific needs. The stampeders
depended on Filson. In that era, clothing wasn't a matter of choice, but of
Tough, comfortable outdoor clothing for hunters and
fishermen, engineers and explorers, mariners and miners.
The Gold Rush faded into history, but Filson kept
listening to his customers, and outdoorsmen kept coming to Filson for rugged
clothes. Drawing from his past experience outfitting loggers, he soon added
clothing for the timber industry, including the Filson Cruiser, the garment that
was to earn Filson a place in history. Designed and named by C.C. Filson and
patented on March 3, 1914, US Patent #1088891, the Cruiser has remained Filson's
best selling item. Today, Filson has sold over half a million of this trademark
Worldwide reputation for honesty, quality and durability
Filson continued to make his goods from the best
materials obtainable, and guaranteed every piece of merchandise. If he didn't
stock an item a customer needed, he custom-made it for him. Filson's name became
synonymous with reliability, satisfaction and honest values. By the 1960s,
Filson' reputation as the premier outfitter for outdoorsmen had spread around
the globe. In addition to being stocked by retailers of quality outdoor wear,
Filson garments were being ordered by mail from places as far away as Greenland.
"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."
Clinton C. Filson 1914 catalog
What worked then, still works now
Over the years, Filson's philosophy has never changed:
make sure it's the absolute best. Clinton Filson spent a lot of time talking to
his customers and refining his designs to their specifications. So it's not
surprising that the items that worked then still work today, over 100 years
later. Comfort, protection and durability never go out of style.