Photo Essay: Backroom Faces of Filson

Filson, one of the oldest manufacturers in the Pacific Northwest, has entered the new century, thanks to its tireless devotion to quality goods. From bags to outerwear, everything that carries Filson’s brand is built to last. I have a tote bag that has seen more milk and food spills than a toddler’s lap, and yet it marches on. It is one of my most treasured possesions and I didn’t even pay full price for it — bought in at a flea market.

Filson, which was started in 1897 by a railroad conductor to outfit those showing up for the Klondike Gold Rush, is true Americana. It has made clothes for cowboys, loggers and others who work with their hands. Lately, however it has become a bit of a hipster brand and you can see Silicon Valley types carrying the classic Filson Brief. It is so big here, that Filson is opening a store in San Francisco. Soon-ish. The funding for the expansion is being funded by Bedrock Manufacturing, a buyout group that also owns Shinola and part of Steve Alan.

Earlier this year, I visited Filson’s factory — to learn how they make those “built tough” bags and other items. Obviously, I took some photos and have been looking for an occassion to publish them. Yesterday, Filson opened a brand new 6400-square foot Seattle Flagship retail store (at 1741 First Avenue South) which is stunning and has unique selection of Filson goods. The new flagship store will attract a lot of attention and media is all over the news.

Instead of trying to gush over their goods — they are gush worthy — I decided to do a photo essay on the fine folks who work in the backrooms and the factories to make these hardwearing goods. For me, their hard work is what translates into the long lasting quality that gives the ultimate value to the brand.