August 6, 2013
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Filson's New "Seattle Fit"
Filson is known for its hard wearing goods built for avid outdoorsmen and elements like the harshest winters. Their oil cloth and Mackinaw wool outerwear has literally stood the test of time. But as the appeal of such well made, durable goods moved past the woodsmen set, the fit could sometimes be a problem. Thankfully, under CEO Alan Kirk, the Seattle-based label has taken things up a couple of notches. Not only has their luggage seen a few modern tweaks, so has their apparel. The new "Seattle fit" is still constructed out of some of the most durable stuff on Earth, but it's cut to a modern guy's tastes. We talked with Kirk about the new fit, new fabrics and Filson's bold new patterns.
The new fit is a boon to those who wanted a slimmer silhouette, but what about bigger guys who filled out the old stuff just fine?
We still have our old fit (the Alaska fit). It's the one people have been buying for decades. We wanted to keep our loyal customers happy, but we also wanted to introduce a new fit that appeals more to the urban-minded guy. The Seattle fit is much closer to the body. But we spent a lot of time on the fit, making sure you could move comfortably.
Filson has made its popular Mackinaw Cruiser jacket since 1914.
What kind of planning and research went into it?
Paul Choi was responsible for the product development. His pattern-making team spent a lot of time researching movability, making sure the armholes were constructed well. It definitely took some trial and error, but we built what we feel is a good, democratic fit. For example, I'm a true medium. In the Alaska fit, the medium is way too big for me. But in the Seattle fit, the armholes are higher, the balance has changed and it really fits nicely up to the neck. It's a much more standard medium. It's a really easy-wearing fit.
In addition to tried-and-true materials like Mackinaw wool and oil cloth, you're also using more technical fabrics now. What inspired that?
We started to introduce more technical and lightweight fabrics through customer request really. Today's hunters and fishermen have said to us "we love your clothing, but it's just a little too heavy." For people who live South of the Mason-Dixon line, they also felt the Filson product was too warm. So it's for comfort on expeditions, but also warmer climates.
And you've really been stepping up its fabrics when it comes to patterns and colors too.
Historically we've only made tan, green and brown. It was radical for Filson to bring in blue. It was so successful that it became our most popular color in the briefcase. We got tons of feedback along the lines of "we love Filson's products, but please mix up the colors!" Colors like black and orange actually have more to do with hunting. As long as we're staying true to who we are, we're not following a trend. We say that "Filson has never slept with fashion." Over the years, we've been true to ourselves, we've always been Filson and we'll continue to be that way.