How Filson Leverages its Heritage

What would your company do if a customer mailed back to your corporate offices a pair of 16-year-old, worn out double tin pants that were used by a glazier in the construction biz? Most companies, feeling kind of creeped out would just toss them, but for Filson, the answer to embrace the past while keeping an eye on the future.

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In fact, Filson, which has been around since 1897, received so many pairs of pants, belts, jackets and photos of loved ones in Filson attire from decades ago that they decided to turn it into a whole new marketing campaign and clothing line entitled the Filson 1897 Collection.

“All of this history…is what made Filson what it is today,” said Harry Egler, marketing vice president for Filson, at the National Etailing and Mailing Organization of America fall directXchange conference on Wednesday in Mystic, CT.

The celebration of the history of this much beloved company can we seen everywhere.

So many people have donated original photographs depicting men in Filson gear exploring the Pacific northwest at the turn of the century that they have ended up back on a newly redesigned catalog cover or in a marketing email blasts or website. Why? Because it is “leveraging the heritage” at Filson, according to Egler.

Just log on to the Filson site and viewers are taken on a digitally remastered journey of historic catalogs and can purchase many of the same clothing pieces that their great grandfathers wore.

By creating this interaction with your customers, Egler said, it has helped create a dialogue with shoppers. “We are able to showcase these products because they are still being sold today…it allows us to tell a story and romanticize about the northwest,” Egler said.

As an example, Egler showed pictures of Filson’s Forestry Cloth Cruiser which was first introduced as style No.16, in the early 1920s. By 1972, he said, the Forestry Cloth Cruiser, along with its matching pant, was now known as “The Alaskan Tuxedo” because it could be worn in the rugged outdoors or a to a nice dinner. It is still one of the top selling items at Filson.

As for that pair of double tin pants? Filson decided to get creative and build a marketing campaign showcasing the pants. It also started a campaign on its website and Facebook page entitled “My Favorite Filson” in which customers can submit pictures older products and share stories about why they love the gear so much.

“That is the kind of thing, that kind of passion, that bleeds into our marketing,” Egler said.

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