I think it’s interesting to think that before these “things” became icons or collectible “luxury items,” they were created to solve a problem and provide utility. The Rolex Submariner and its outer rotating bezel were used for actual scuba diving and used to time bottom time or decompression time, similar to Filson’s tin cloth, which was used to keep outdoorsmen dry in wet weather, or the small yet functional addition of a thumb loop that was used to button a storm flap or pocket one-handed while in the field.
Filson invited myself and Tyler to come up to their flagship location in Seattle, WA, where the brand started in 1897, to meet with the Filson team to talk about a couple of potential collaborations and to hold a 2-day pop-up event showcasing some of our favorite vintage watches. To have been invited by a brand that I have been such a fan of for so long to do something like this was a dream come true. But I think it’s more than that for me; it’s not just cool bags and clothing. For me, my Filson bags are my constant and consistent road companions. Traveling as much as we do, the only thing that becomes actually predictable is the unpredictable. “Creating unfailing goods since 1897” is one of the Filson mottos, and our bags and clothing are constantly put to the test on the road. Literally, every weather or travel condition you can think of has been thrown at our gear, and it just gets better the more you use it.
Touching down in Seattle after an early evening flight from LAX, we were greeted by Seattle’s signature weather – cold, wet, and rainy. The next morning, the day before our event, we met with the Filson team to gear up for our exciting event and to huddle with the Filson workshop crew to discuss a potential watch-related collaboration. While we can’t make any promises just yet, there’s a tantalizing hint of more to come in the near future. Fingers crossed!
The Filson flagship store is nothing short of awe-inspiring. I expected it to be cool, but trust me, it’s beyond cool; it’s mind-blowingly cool. It’s everything you could imagine and then some. The store not only showcases the full range of current and classic Filson products, but it’s also a living archive of Filson’s past, housing an impressive collection of historic gear and products. To be honest, I can’t help but fanboy a little over this place. It’s easily one of the most immersive and thrilling retail locations I’ve set foot in for a long time. Here, you truly grasp what Filson stands for at its core.
However, it’s not just the store that’s remarkable; it’s the people behind it. We had the pleasure of meeting the entire spectrum of Filson employees and staff, and they were genuinely excited to be part of the Filson family. This sense of enthusiasm and authenticity was remarkable. It was the real deal, and everyone was sincerely interested in what we were up to. The Filson spirit of community and family radiated throughout the entire team, from top to bottom. It was also a delight to connect with members of the Filson team who had purchased vintage watches from us in the past, without us knowing that they were Filson team members. It’s a fantastic feeling when your admiration for someone or something is reciprocated with equal enthusiasm.
After meeting the extended Filson family and gaining insight into their operations, we had the privilege to enter a very special realm within Filson. You might already know about it – the Filson “custom shop” or what I’d dare call the “Skunk Works.” This is where all of Filson’s custom bags and goods come to life, and it’s also a hub for product prototyping, aptly named the “workshop.” Items from the workshop carry the coveted “workshop” label and are highly sought after by Filson fans. These items are typically crafted in limited quantities and, in many cases, by hand. Stepping into this workshop was an extraordinary experience, one you could sense the moment you crossed the threshold. The room buzzed with projects in the making, scraps of vintage and new materials, in hues and textures you’ve never seen before. It’s like all the ingredients for creative magic were laid out before us.
We were greeted by Jon Duce, whose name, to be honest, is just as cool as the wizardry he conjures. He gave us an in-depth tour of the workshop and shared insights into the projects he was currently working on. It was an inspiring exchange of ideas and a chance to explore some of his favorite creations. Jon is a true master craftsman, skilled not only in working with leather, canvas, and zippers but also with some of the toughest materials used in crafting bags. Experience tells you when someone’s the real deal, and Jon is exactly that.
We even delved into the realm of 550 cord and one of my favorite resources, https://countycomm.com, which offers a treasure trove of components, particularly titanium-based, and sells surplus military items. If we embark on a collaborative journey, Jon will be our go-to wizard, creator, and all-around legend. His passion for blending the old and the new aligns perfectly with what we believe a product from both Filson and C + T should embody. It’s an exhilarating prospect!
We were thrilled to receive an exceptionally robust and captivating metal and glass display case for our pop-up right at the heart of the Filson flagship store, placed prominently in front of a cozy wood-burning fireplace. The excitement continued as we ventured into the Filson Archive, where we were granted the privilege to select historic and archival accessories, a rare treat for the public. Exploring the archive was akin to embarking on an Indiana Jones-like adventure, surrounded by a treasure trove of the coolest and most intriguing items lining the racks, which we eagerly incorporated into our showcase.
Our display case showcased an exhilarating range of watches, from prestigious blue-chip timepieces like the Tudor M.N. insured snowflake Submariner ref. 94010 and the iconic Rolex Daytona “Big Red” ref. 6263, to more accessible classics like the Seiko “Pogue” chronograph ref. 6139-6002 and the undeniably stylish Zodiac Seawolf ref. 722-946B.
The event drew a massive crowd of watch enthusiasts, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. What truly makes these events special is the opportunity to connect with our long-time friends and meet those we’ve conversed with on the internet and social platforms like Instagram and now TikTok. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, an array of exceptional timepieces found their way to our pop-up, including our latest acquisition, a dazzling silver dial Rolex Daytona ref. 6263, which begged for a side-by-side comparison with our signature black Big Red, a thrilling moment. Adding to the excitement was a rare find – a Lemania SAAF 5012, a watch with a remarkable history, delivered to the South African Air Force. Notably, we had the honor of selling vintage watches to first-time buyers, and the experience was incredibly rewarding. It’s especially heartwarming when these interactions occur in person, as the majority of our sales and connections with our valued customers take place through our social media platforms and electronic communication channels.
In conclusion, our recent journey to Filson’s flagship location in Seattle was nothing short of incredible. It reaffirmed our deep admiration for a brand that stands for enduring quality and purpose. Filson’s commitment to “Creating unfailing goods since 1897” is not just a slogan; it’s a way of life. We were honored to explore their custom shop and interact with their passionate team members who share our love for craftsmanship and authenticity. This experience has further ignited our excitement about potential collaborations in the future, bridging the worlds of vintage watches and Filson’s iconic gear. But most importantly, it’s a reminder that meaningful products, like our Filson bags, become constant companions on our unpredictable journeys. We encourage you to discover Filson’s legacy and explore their remarkable offerings for those who value quality and purpose. Let’s continue to champion enduring, purpose-driven brands like Filson and create a community that celebrates craftsmanship and adventure. Together, we can carry forward the spirit of Filson and inspire others to embrace the enduring goods that make life’s adventures all the more memorable.
I wanted to specifically thank Robin Mattis. Robin and I became friends and exchanged a bunch of messages through social media as we shared a passion for Filson lore and had a ton of common connections. Robin took Tyler and me in and made us feel right at home in Seattle and was the conduit and facilitator connecting us to the Filson team in Seattle. Having a connection like this in a foreign land whether it be internationally or domestically makes a huge difference especially when it comes to finding the local burger spots or the best espresso. I think one of the most special things about Filson as I mentioned above is that it is a true team and family and I think that is something that can get lost when companies expand and grow but it is team members like Robin who really care and go the extra mile and that makes the biggest difference.
Additional Thanks to Neil Morgan who was also very welcoming to our team and helped facilitate the event making sure we were well taken care of and had all the access we needed to share what the Filson brand is really about as well as Jon Duce who let us into his workshop AKA his laboratory and for giving us a true behind the scenes look into the production process and creativity that makes the brand truly what it is from a a past future and present perspective!
Words and Photography by Cameron Barr. Additional Photography by Tyler Vanes.
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