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 design 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 Originally made in Tin Cloth and Mackinaw Wool, the shirt soon evolved in both fabric and functional design throughout the years in order to serve the needs of timber 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 intended for his design to be flexible to meet the needs of his customers. Yet some features remained constant—and are still employed today.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.