In 1897, the original Filson store was opened. C.C. Filson’s Pioneer Alaska Clothing and Blanket Manufacturers specialized in goods made to outfit the stampede of laborers to the Klondike Gold Rush. Tales of the cold and harrowing circumstances that persisted the Yukon were commonly reported. According to the diary of Hume Nisbet, written in 1897, even the Spring season in the area was unbearable:
“Try to recall your sensations on the coldest night you have ever known; try to intensify the most bitter ice blast that has ever pierced your marrow by a thousandfold; even then you will not be able to realize spring in the Chilkoot Canyon, far less midwinter on the Klondike.”
It was exactly these conditions that prompted and inspired all of C.C. Filson’s product development. In this original store, Filson operated his own mill on-site and manufactured Mackinaw clothing, blankets and knit goods made from this incredibly heavy-weight water-repellent wool fabric. Furthermore, the store sold boots, shoes, moccasins and sleeping bags that were all specifically designed for the grim conditions of the North. Customers came to rely upon Filson’s high-quality garments for protection and warmth. The customers came to rely on Filson himself as well. C.C. Filson stayed in close contact with his customers, constantly striving to improve his goods to meet their specific needs. This was an era when clothing wasn’t a matter of choice or style, but solely of survival.
Filson soon became known as the premier outfitter in the Northwest, with a business built on rugged goods that were made to hold up under the most demanding conditions. A tradition and heritage that continues to this day.