Might as well have the best
“Made in America” isn’t just an uber patriotic screed imploring you to buy a Dodge Charger before Fiat gets its hands on the marque, and makes the new Fiat 500, 2010’s Mini Cooper…BTW, I love the 500, old and new.
Rather “Made in America” handcrafted clothing, luxury goods, work wear, boots and clothing have become a filter for taste-making hipsters. There are several great blog, including my favorite, A Continuous Lean, — dedicated to the subject, and while I never thought of it as a filter for my key purchases, I’m inspired by those that are really taking it to heart. Classic brands like Alden, Hamilton Shirts, Red Wing Boots as well as independent artisans are leveraging the materials, i.e. Horween Shell Cordovan that only a few of the old timers had access to. More to come later on Alden and Horween in a future post.
That brings me to Filson. Much has been written, discussed, blogged and Style Forum’d on the sale of this Seattle company and what would become of their American made clothing bags and luggage. While some manufacturing has moved offshore, the company’s mainstay bags, leather goods and luggage continue to be produced stateside. I put a lot of miles on my bags, and while often derided by my working colleagues, I’m not afraid to check a bag…sure it adds time and isn’t as cool to do so, but I love having the stuff I want with me when I get wherever I’m going. Early in my career, I was a traveling TV syndication salesman—selling shows for Disney first, then to Fox…Shows that started with Wonderful World of Disney reruns, through A Current Affair, to The Simpsons. Traveling around the country, this was the era of garment bags and Haliburton suitcases. No one had seen wheels on luggage yet, and most people checked their bags. I’ve been through the Hartmann phase, the 80’s Cadillac of luggage, on to San Francisco’s Glaser Design bags, through North Face duffles, and now to Filson. My bags of choice are the Filson medium wheeled check in bag and the extra large wheeled bag duffle. I also use the medium field bag and rugged twill tote bag as carry ons and briefcases.
But this post is an ode to the Filson medium wheeled check in bag.
This may very well be the perfect piece of checked luggage when traveling on biz, meaning an extra pair of shoes or two and a couple of suits. Think more than 2 nights, up to 2 weeks. I’ll admit that I’m goofy about bags, and I’m now applying the same rules that apply to T-shirts and sneakers—a new one comes in, and old ones gotta go. I’ve been sucked in by the allure of UK Based Globetrotter, having first seen it at Tokyo’s Beams. I also have been called to by the ultra high end Tumi Townhouse . The major difference is that the Filson pieces, aside from being beautifully crafted in waxed cotton, I prefer the otter green, and bridle leather which ages magically, are actually kitted out with thoughtful pockets and shoe pouches. While 3-4X the price of Filson, the Globetrotter and Tumi are basically big boxes, and you’re left to your own devices when it comes to a packing scheme. You may have gathered from other posts that I’m a creature of habit, and that carries through to my packing ritual. Suffice to say, the Filson layout is logical, works and makes sense.
In terms of build quality and wear, my Filson bags have seen many miles over the last 5 years. No issues, and they look better than when new—that’s the idea isn’t it? In London two weeks ago, an Abercrombie knock-off store in Nottinghill was selling pre-distressed Filson bags and duffles at 3X the price of brand new bags. Like distressed jeans, that’s just silly. The ultimate road worn bag of beauty belongs to my dear friend and colleague Mike Murphy. 3+ years ago, we all pitched in to get Mike the padded laptop bag for his birthday. Mike doesn’t travel light, and the Filson is always fairly stuffed. It’s seen the world and shows the miles that Mike has put on it building an amazing team and company. We all take great pride in seeing the bag—looking better now than when new.
While Brad and Angelina have been paparazzi’d dragging babies and Filson bags through JFK and African airports, the same goes for Twilight star, Robert Pattinson and his Filson duffle. Up and coming design houses have been working with Filson to build bags that leverage Filson craftsmanship, while putting their own spin on the product. Collaborations and mashups are nothing new, but it seems as if Filson is being thoughtful, and the limited edition collaboration designed by Apolis Activism is a great example. I pre-ordered one.
The Filson motto is “Might as well have the best,” and for the money, there really isnt a reason not to.