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filson-timeline

The History & Evolution of Filson

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- 1850 -

C. C. Filson is born with his father’s spirit and overall love for the life of the outdoors. He inherits his passion and desire to explore the great outdoors. Born on January 27th, 1850, he is later followed by six other siblings, making him the oldest out of 7 children of Georgie M. Filson and Rebecca Harumer Filson.

- 1870s -

Among the early pioneers to Nebraska, the family settled in Humboldt in the 1870s where others in the family would go on to lead successful lives.

- 1880 -

Clinton Filson held experience in both politics and business ventures, he then became mayor through election for Humboldt.

- 1881 -

The Filson House opens, this goes on to operate for many years to come as a very successful boarding house.

- 1887 -

Clinton Filson marries Winifred C. Egbert in Clayton, Iowa, on April 27th.

- 1890 -

He moves onward to the small city of Seattle, Washington after living in Nebraska working as a railroad conductor.

- 1891 -

The Filson & Timmerman General Store opens in Kirkland, across Lake Washington from Seattle. Long time family friend Albert T. Timmerman becomes partner as Filson enlists him.

- 1897 -

The Great Klondike Gold Rush was on and this brought with it thousands of people searching for the precious metal. Fortune hunters make their way to Seattle to head further North, but where would they get their equipment and clothing for the journey? C. C. Filson was well equipped to deal with the demand and armed with experience, a strong work ethic and his reputation of honesty, he was more than ready to stake his claim to fame.

Filson opens C. C. Filson’s Pioneer Alaska Clothing and Blanket Manufacturers. They specialise in goods to kit out the masses heading towards the Klondike Gold Rush. Filson designs his goods for the worst conditions and following a diary entry by Hume Nisbet, the harrowing experiences in the Yukon were revealed: "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."

With ownership of his own mill, he’s able to manufacture Mackinaw Wool clothing and blankets, knit goods as well as selling boots, shoes, moccasins and sleeping bags. He designs all items for the frigid conditions of the North and keeps in close contact with his customers meaning he can improve goods to meet requirements of his customer base. The Gold Rush brings in regular customers who depend on Filson for their clothing which isn’t about choice, it’s about survival.

- 1898 -

Filson operates stores at 1119 First Avenue and at the corner of Occidental and Yesler avenues. The store is named the Seattle Woolen Manufacturing Company and Pioneer Alaska Clothing and Blanket Manufacturers. Their catalog states they sell the following: "Mackinaw clothing, Mackinaw blankets and knit goods, as well as boots, shoes, moccasins and sleeping bags specially designed for the frigid North"

Word of mouth increases as adverts are ran in newspapers that showcase the perils of the pass trails and the mistakes that are made when choosing the cheap option for outfits.

- 1914 -

 A catalog releases detailing how Filson can help those venturing further North for gold, it features a quote:

"To our customers: if a man is going North, he should come to us for his outfit, because we have obtained our ideas of what is best to wear in that country from the experience of the man from the North -- not merely one -- but hundreds of them. Our materials are the very best obtainable, for we know that the best is none too good and that quality is of vital importance. You can depend absolutely upon our goods both as to material and workmanship."

As the Gold Rush fades into recent history, Filson draws on his experience of outfitting loggers to add clothing for the timber industry and creates the Filson Cruiser. Designed and named by C. C. Filson and patented on March 3, 1914, the Filson Cruiser Shirt is introduced. It will go on to be one of the most influential and best selling products in the Filson range. Filson also patents a Cruiser jacket and pants as well as mainstays such as the Tin Cloth jacket, the Feather Cloth shirt and a wide range of bags, luggage and sporting vests for the outdoors.

- 1919 -

The company finally becomes incorporated in Washington as the C. C. Filson Company.

On December 21st, Clinton Filson’s life came to an end. He was president of the company and was able to manage it up until this time. His obituary details the life he led and reflects the identity of a man who many people had known since the very beginning in Seattle, all those years ago.

"a merchandiser of the old school, who believed in his goods and vouched for their quality"

Following his death, his wife Winifred Filson took over as the president and Clinton’s only nephew George Stroble was named as vice president. Ulysses S. Dick was named as secretary treasurer, the longtime clerk leads the company to further success and their improvements in years to come were largely attributed to him.

"Much of the burden of management devolves upon him, and the prosperity now enjoyed by the house is largely the outcome of the tireless efforts on his behalf. Mr. Dick has few outside interests, reserving his energies for the business in which he is engaged ... the business has progressed with Seattle's growth, and throughout its existence the firm has borne an unassailable reputation for integrity and reliability"

- 1924 -

The business moves from the new Globe Building at 1011 First Avenue, Seattle to 1005-7 First Avenue.

- 1927 -

C. C. Filson Co. files a lawsuit to enforce further protection on the Cruiser design that was patented over 13 years ago. The jacket became such a popular staple piece that was so popular and in-demand. Other manufacturers attempt to copy the design by making slight changes in order to bypass the law.

- 1935 -

Ulysses Dick leaves the company as the secretary treasurer.

- 1936 -

George Stroble who had previously left, returns as the new secretary treasurer for C. C. Filson Co.

- 1948 -

Having moved three times between 1931 and 1948, the company settles into the 205 Maritime Building, located close to the former Federal Building.

- 1958 -

Winifred Filson dies at the age of 94 and with no Filson children as heirs, the company operations continue under George Stroble.

- 1960s -

Filson’s reputation grows substantially over the years and reputation builds as the best outfitter for outdoorsmen. Filson garments are stocked by retailers of quality outdoor wear and orders come in from places all over the world, including Greenland. Filson caters to their customers every need, if an item doesn’t exist they custom make it for them. All pieces are made from the best materials obtainable and are guaranteed to last.

- 1964 -

George Stroble dies and with a provision in place to have the company run by a trust, the company is then controlled by its legal counsel and bank.

- 1965 -

Ted Reed, purchasing agent for the Alaska Native Industries Cooperative Association was in touch shortly after Stroble’s death and became secretary treasurer with an option to buy in five years. He knew the company and what their values were, paired with his experience and background in filling orders for Alaskans, he was well equipped to take over management.

- 1970 -

Reed purchases the company following his option to buy and focuses on the quality of the brand at the production level.

- 1981 -

The business was sold by Reed to Stan Kohls. Kohls successfully expands the product line from around 35 items to upwards of 250.

- 1985 -

Kohls moves the company to 1246 First Avenue S. Local and the enjoyed continued success under the new owner.

- 1993 -

The Seattle Mayor, Norman B. Rice awarded the Filson company for its contributions to the community.

- 1994 -

The company faces a brand new challenge which tests the owner into making a stand. Representatives of Filson and other businesses rejected and protested plans for a planned new baseball stadium being built in the near vicinity. Kohls outlined a defense:

"Much of Filson's highly skilled workforce would be lost in the relocation process and the damage to its sales and marketing effort would, in all likelihood, be irreparable ... the company will participate in the environmental review process and will vigorously support selection of an alternate site for the new stadium. The company will not discuss or negotiate the issues of condemnation and relocation with King County until the final site selection has been made. C. C. Filson's goal is to avoid relocation. It is not interested in merely using this process to negotiate a better price for its property"

The company brings about the very first unionised sewing factory in Seattle, its workers being represented by Garment Workers Union Local 17. Around 200 workers in the Filson manufacturing operations were represented by the union which merges with the Service Workers Union.

- 1998 -

After years of fighting, the company loses the site battle with the city. However, letters of support come in from across Washington protesting the plans to displace the company in favour of building the new stadium.

- 1999 -

A new outlet store opens following relocation. The store is located at 1555 Fourth Avenue S and while representatives feared the worst, business increased further and even on a national level.

 
 
 
 

Filson has always been known as the supplier of garments, outfits and accessories for the sportsman, the prospector and the outdoorsman. The brand continues to grow to this day and keeps in check the values that made it one of the most successful Northwest companies. Their efforts to remain a high quality line of clothing are upheld even know and they’re able to serve customers not only in the Us but across the globe too. 

The philosophy of the company has never changed, their determination and mission to make sure everything is the absolute best it can be still exists and it’s clear in all of their work. Clinton Filson was always a people person and spent the majority of his time in charge communicating with customers and refining his designs to their specifications. Comfort, protection and durability never go out of style and nearly 120 years later since the creation, the items that worked then still work to this very day and the popularity of their items has gone above and beyond expectations.

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