In 1897, Filson opened his first store, Filson’s Pioneer Alaska and Blanket Manufacturers. With the Gold Rush in full swing, Filson found a niche market providing functional gear and apparel for miners enduring the arduous Northwest conditions. Filson became a trusted label offering a variety of high quality and highly resistant products made from materials that would become ubiquitous with the Filson brand. The original Filson store operated its own mill on-site and manufactured clothing, blankets and knit goods made from the heavy weight, water repellant Mackinaw wool fabric.
The Filson Cruiser was first released in 1914 and would go on to become one of the brand’s iconic designs. The Cruiser name and the unique design were officially patented on March 3, 1914 (US Patent #1088891). A favorite of lumbermen, the Cruiser was named after timber cruisers who surveyed the logging land. In the 1920s, the wool Cruiser and pants were so admired that they were affectionately dubbed the “Alaskan Tuxedo,” the outfit of choice for anyone working in the timber industry. By 1927, the patent was no longer in effect, allowing other brands to reproduce the design. To date, the Cruiser has become one of the most widely imitated pieces and has remains one of Filson’s best selling items today.
Filson’s expertise in outdoor outfitting and his slogan “Might as Well Have the Best” was reflected in his use of materials. Whether active in drenching rain or severe cold and snow, Filson made a natural fabric that would stand up to the worst abuse, and keep functioning for years and generations to come. For more than 100 years, Filson is renowned for its proprietary fabrics including Mackinaw Wool, Tin Cloth, Shelter Cloth, Cover Cloth, Rugged Twill and Bridle Leather.
Filson’s Mackinaw 100% virgin wool comes from a small band of hardy sheep in a special region of the U.S. that is woven to Filson’s unique specifications, it is proven to provide greater resilience and more natural insulating qualities.
Even today Filson products are not made on a production line, each individual garment is made by one worker from start to finish, ensuring a top quality item every time or you’re money back.
The nice gentleman in the store even offered to fix my vintage Wool Cruiser at Christmas because it had a small slash across the bottom of the placket, probably from barbed wire in its previous life. Amazing garments, amazing people. Can’t wait to go up to Seattle to see the factory.