A 120-Year-Old Heritage Brand is Dropping in Gastown

And if you're not familiar with Filson then you're not familiar with how the Pacific Northwest came of age.

May 3, 2017

By Neal McLennan / Photo: Filson

True story: I got my first piece of Filson clothing in my late teens when my dad, a paragon of manly outdoor pursuits in his younger years, passed on his Filson Double Mackinaw Cruiser (a double mac to the cognoscenti)—a beast of a coat that probably weighs five pounds in felted wool—overlaid with the iconic black-and-red check. If you’ve seen a coat that looks like this it’s either a Filson or someone ripping them off.

The brand was created by C.C. Filson’s Pioneer Alaska Clothing and Blanket Manufacturers in Seattle in 1897 for the purpose of outfitting the crazy dreamers who were then pouring off the Emerald City’s docks to seek their fortune in the Klondike Goldrush. And unlike other heritage brands—we’re looking at you Abercrombie and Fitch—they haven’t changed much in their one-hundred-plus years of operation. There are no walls of gore-tex shells or synchilla fleeces: there’s wool, down, cotton and if you want it water-proof, then waxed cotton. The brand is sometimes compared to a Pacific Northwest version of Barbour, if Barbour was better made and worked for a living.

And while a prime slice of Gastown may seem an odd locale for a brand that’s the opposite of namby pamby, it’s their very refusal to to give two hoots about being cool that makes them the coolest kid on the block. To wit: I wore my Double Mac to a post-Christmas sale at South Vancouver’s tony Boboli and the Issey Miyake-clad salesperson looked at me, paused and said, “That’s one cool jacket.”

Filson’s not cheap—a long-sleeve shirt is in the $130 range, a full wool jacket is around $500—but the prices are the same for men and women. (You’ll never see them on a huge clearance in the store and they don’t ever pop-up marked down at Winners, so it’s a fair and honest transaction.)

Filson Grand Opening

Thursday, May 4
6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
47 Water St.

Joining the celebration will be Postmark Brewery, Earnest Ice Cream, Rodney’s Oyster House, Salmon ‘n’ Bannock, with catering by our pal Chris Whittaker of Forage.

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