1897 Before there was the influx of tech transplants and a steady crawl of Subarus on I-5, there was the boom of the Klondike Gold Rush. Pioneers flocked to our young city as a base camp for adventures in the far north.
That promise of riches brought a particular opportunity for C. C. Filson. Having recently arrived in Seattle after stints homesteading in Nebraska and working as a train conductor, Filson opened C. C. Filson's Pioneer Alaska Clothing and Blanket Manufacturers, stocked with quality supplies to protect the stampeeders.
Early 1900s When the gold fever cooled off, Filson shifted its focus to outfitting outdoorsmen. The protective clothing made for survival in Alaska's rugged conditions was altered to suit fishermen, loggers, and hunters.
1914 Filson patents the Cruiser Shirt, an all-weather utilitarian jacket that is still in production today.
1970–1981 Filson, until this point a family-run company, sells the business. Eventually it lands in the hands of skiwear entrepreneur Stan Kohls, who expands Filson's catalog from around 35 items to over 250, designing them all himself with a continued commitment to quality and heritage fabrication. The company is sold again in 2005 and 2012.
1998 The brand opens its flagship location near Safeco Field.
2008 It may seem strange that it took over 100 years for Filson to realize that there are also fisherwomen and huntresses and, in general, ladies who care about quality craftsmanship and rugged styles. But it wasn't until 2008 that Filson released its first full line of clothing for women. At the time of release, there was a 40-item collection. Currently, the Filson site has eight women's offerings.
2012 Filson hires the fashion world's Richard Chai for a short stint as creative director. This ends up feeling more like a designer collaboration than a new direction, but it definitely feeds into the mode of the moment—and it's the first time Filson hits the runway.
2013 As the brand expanded into more countries and markets, the need for a global manufacturing headquarters became apparent. In 2013, Filson opened its world headquarters—a 57,000-square-foot factory and showroom—in SoDo, two blocks from its flagship store. In 2010, then-CEO Mark Korros told us that 70 percent of Filson products are made in Seattle. For 2015, Filson is also introducing a line of American-made down outerwear.
2014 Everything comes full circle with the Restoration Department, an in-house workshop (highlighted in the March 2015 issue of Seattle Met) that revives vintage Filson luggage into new, one-of-a-kind bags and pouches.
Along the way there were also Filson openings in Japan, collabs with Levi's and Blackbird, an outlet store, and all the changes in ownership and management that a business of its age faces. We're just proud the brand still calls Seattle home and can't wait to see what the next 118 years have in store.