The Cruiser Shirt Patent
In March, 1914, C.C. Filson was awarded U.S. Patent #1,088,891* for his Cruiser Shirt design. It was a time in U.S. history when prospectors braved the frozen hills of the Yukon to seek their fortunes and surveyors worked for days on end surveying stands of timber in the Pacific Northwest.
Like these early adventurers who sought paths with no guaranteed outcomes, Filson was also an entrepreneur, and his original patent illustrates his inventiveness, his functional design sensibility and his ability to meet and exceed the needs of serious outdoor laborers and sports enthusiasts. This year we celebrate 100 years of the original Cruiser Shirt patent. The Cruiser has gone through many iterations, depending on what it was built for: timber surveying, mining, hunting, fly fishing, or work wear. What hasn't changed is its functional heritage: It has always been - and always will be - offered as a tool to be worn outside.
*Patent since expired
A Slice of Pacific Northwest History Captured in a Shirt
It was 1912, and C.C. Filson was operating a Seattle, Washington store - Filson's Pioneer Alaska and Blanket Manufacturers - opened in 1897 in order to supply hoards of prospectors headed to the Yukon Gold Rush. As the Gold Rush died down, Filson found that there were many more customers in need of rugged outdoor clothing and gear. So he designed a shirt that would meet the current and unforeseen needs of his customers. He applied for a patent in 1912 based on a shirt design that contained many unique and innovative features - all of them based on simplicity and functionality in the outdoors. Filson was awarded a patent for his Cruiser Shirt in 1914. Originally made in Tin Cloth and Mackinaw Wool, the shirt soon evolved in both fabric and functional design throughout the years in order to serve the needs of timbers cruisers, dam builders, and miners, - the men and women shaping the future of the Pacific Northwest through muscle and sheer force of will. While staying true to his original idea, Filson in tended for his design to be flexible to meet the need of his customers. Yet some features remained constant - and are still employed today.
Designed to Evolve
C.C. Filson was thinking ahead when he designed the original Cruiser Shirt. The 1912 patent application states in painstaking detail all of the innovative features that warranted a protective patent: a double layer of fabric that covered from the top of the pockets in the front to the bottom hem in the back - which formed the large back pocket. Large utility chest pockets that were wide to accomodate extra cargo yet would not interfere with mobility. A slotted chest pocket to store easy-to-access pens and tools.
But Filson also was clear in his patent description: While core design features would remain unchanged, the Cruiser Shirt was also a flexible design that would evolve over time based on the needs of his customers. We still employ the same thinking today when designing garments, gear and footwear: What is it intended for? How can we provide maximum protection and functionality with the least amount of weight and features? From a product standpoint, the Cruiser Shirt remains as instructive today as it was 100 years ago: Every Filson product adheres to our basic tenets of evolving form and function.