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Men'sWeek issue 02/02/2012

Filson is stepping up its fashion quotient for fall.

This story first appeared in the February 2, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The Seattle-based outdoors brand has snagged Richard Chai to serve as its creative director, and the designer will showcase looks from his first capsule collection for the label during his runway show in New York City on Feb. 9.

“Richard is the ideal creative partner not only because he shares Filson’s values in craftsmanship, high-quality fabrications and classic, practical approach to design, but because of his passion for our brand’s heritage,” said Mark Korros, president and chief executive officer of Filson.

Chai’s first designs will be in the Filson Rugged Casual Apparel line, which is being expanded for fall. There will be nine interpretations of classic Filson styles such as the wool bomber, field jacket and duffel bag, offered in updated fabrications that complement his fall men’s wear collection.

Korros said the association with Chai will “enable Filson to appeal to our existing customer base as well as a younger customer who is more fashion conscious. It’s adding a real romance to the brand.”

Korros said Filson, which has a 115-year history outfitting hunters, fishermen, explorers and other outdoorsmen, had been “looking for design expertise to help us elevate the brand. It’s an iconic American label with very traditional and classic styling and our goal is to grow Filson’s share of closet.”

He said the brand is carried in outdoors retailers as well as more “mainstream” stores such as Nordstrom and Steven Alan. “Our customers were saying they would like to have more Filson so we were hoping to find someone who understands the core value of the brand.”

Enter Chai.

“He approached us and asked if we would be interested,” Korros said. “We met and it was like he’d read our book. He was clearly smack dab in the middle of the vision we had for growth.” His design aesthetic is “comfortable,” yet “approachable,” Korros added, and his reinterpretations of classic products are true to the originals but with a modern twist. All of the products will be made in America.

“I’ve been a fan of Filson for years,” Chai said. “I love the timelessness and practicality in their design. Our partnership will be rooted in everyday wear, approachable with unexpected fabrications and details that are signature to my collections, all while staying true to the heritage of the Filson brand.”

The capsule will feature six Filson jackets constructed in Richard Chai fabrics: the wool bomber in black stripe fabric, two versions of the field jacket in both beige wool and charcoal wool with beige and gray felt accents, the classic Filson Cruiser in waxed denim fabric and navy suede jackets inspired by Filson’s wading and outfitter jackets. Accessories include three versions of the Filson Packer Hood in black stripe, beige wool and charcoal wool; a large duffel bag in both black stripe and beige wool versions; a utility belt bag in black stripe, beige wool and charcoal wool, and the Filson Rucksack in beige wool and charcoal wool. Prices will be about 25 percent higher than the regular Filson range and are “reflective of the fabric, fit and finish.”

Distribution will be targeted to better department and specialty stores and the line will also be carried on Filson Direct.

The association is for several seasons and is open-ended, Korros said. “We think it can really be long-term,” he said.

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