AT THE TOP OF MY Christmas wish list one year was a down comforter. My parents dutifully researched the purchase in Consumer Reports and went straight for one offering the best value in terms of good quality for a good price. With its high-density premium goose down and unique baffle construction, designed to both keep the filling in place and allow it to move around for seasonal adjustment, the obvious choice was the one made by Eddie Bauer. I still love sleeping under its lofty drape and weightless warmth. Only as I worked on this issue did I learn that buying that bedding should have been a no-brainer. During its near 100 years of operation, as Bruce Barcott reports in Putting the Eddie Back in Eddie Bauer, our hometown outfitter basically invented down everything, starting with a down jacket.
And if there’s one piece of clothing Seattleites require, it’s a jacket. Our year-round opportunities for sodden weather make it mandatory to own at least one garment made of rain-shedding, windbreaking Gore-Tex or other high-tech miracle fiber. In decades of living here, owing to my strenuous aversion, not to outdoor activities, but to the aggressively unstylish clothes that keep me warm and dry while I’m doing them, I have purchased exactly one and only one such water-beading anorak and it, like the comforter, came from Eddie Bauer. The women’s versions that season came in neon colors (I wanted earth tones, thank you very much) and were too short for my height. I went for an oversized men’s shell in a shade of deep forest green that comes halfway to my knees and does absolutely nothing for my coloring, but at least it was better than dreaded navy. It’s shapeless and unflattering, but it has lots of pockets and when I’m tromping around in the rain and mud, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I hate/love it.
That said, it’s time to retire the thing, and this may just be the year to do it. The Eddie Bauer company, along with plenty of other heritage brands, is getting a clue. Just look at the down vest with a fur-lined hood in style editor Laura Cassidy’s fall fashion lineup. It’s the result of a partnership between Eddie Bauer and Nigel Cabourn, a veteran British designer whose vintage-inspired outerwear has earned him an international following. I would definitely wear that.
Editor in Chief