In my story world, the Tin Cloth Wildfowl hat has become oddly popular–even among folks who do not normally wear Filson (let alone–hunting garb, industrial workwear or heritage brands). I would never have selected this hat as a Filson gateway accessory. But for some reason, it has a kind of [X?] appeal that makes people want to own it even if they will never occupy a duck blind or fend off an Arctic chill. Why is that?
I spoke with a fellow in Portland who is working on a design to modify the Wildfowl hat into a cycling cap. His idea is to somehow trim back the lower half of the hat so it covers his ears and buckles under his chin. We never discussed how this would interface with a proper bicycle helmet. Perhaps the hat (tin cloth plus melton wool) is thick and durable enough to function as an old school leather skid lid.
One of the things I love about Northwest outdoor stores like the Portland Outdoor Store, Les Newmans (Salem), Roberts (Eugene) and long ago, BB&M (Richland, WA) is that the store owners and workers really know the history of regional brands like Filson, Danner, Pendleton, etc. They can give you spot sales reports, provide you with a little bit of company gossip and remind you of items that used to be in the product line. At the POS, I always beg for the same stories about recent Filson history–about Filson presidential lineage and how POS Filson sales are holding up since the Filson flagship store opened in town (“like it doesn’t exist,” says my POS source). My source did remind me of a time when Filson yanked their product line from the POS and we all stopped making Filson purchases. Fortunately, Filson company experiments in courting the department store demographic failed and once again, the POS shelves and racks are stocked with tin cloth and wool luggage (plus a crazy overstock of Pendleton blankets, western saddles, H Bar C gabardine rancher’s slacks and tiny, ladies size 5 jodphur boots).
My favorite bit of Filson gossip is the story of how Filson switched vendors for their famous tin cloth fabric. From what I hear, the Martin company out of New Jersey used to be the exclusive source for Filson tin cloth. Filson purists claim that the Martin company tin cloth was the best of all time–a true bullet proof, stand-up fabric. According to my sources, there was a disagreement between Filson and the Martin company and Filson switched vendors (to British Marine…?? trying to track down that info).
If you’re a Filson purist and long for the glory days of the ten item Filson product line (no women’s clothing in site), I’m told that a westernwear company called Schaeffer is making a waxed cotton chore coat out of the original Martin company tin cloth. I saw the coat at the POS but it was still a bit too boxy and westernwear-y for me to pull off with any confidence. The fabric on the jacket was so thick and waxy that it was difficult for me to lift and lower my arms–a hallmark of a top level waxed cotton fabric jacket. Schaeffer might be a nice option for gents (not ladies!) if you want to diversify your tin fabric jacket holdings. Make sure you order one size smaller than your regular jacket size for optimal fit. I’m ordering a catalog for inclusion in my ten year archive.
I recently received an email from a reader who was wondering if I was just another workwear (or waterfowling?) poseur since I do not hike in my Alden Indy boots or use my Barbour jacket for game hunting. What the individual may not realize (aside from the fact that my Barbour is a now-discontinued “urban transport” model designed for cycling–not bloodsports) is that for the most part, I cannot wear most of the clothing pictured on this blog because it does not come in my size (and/or it is only available on cellulose nitrate). For this reason, I’ve never bothered to order anything from the McAlister clothing company, an amazing US based outdoor clothing company featuring some of the most functional yet stylish waxed cotton and outdoor clothing on the market. McAlister specializes in unstructured, non-fussy tin cloth field coats and waxed cotton down jackets and vests (which I am told are made out of a waxed cotton duck originally sourced to CC Filson before Filson switched vendors). At this time, they do not offer a women’s product line.
McAlister is one of those stealth companies about which no one seems to know (unless you stall out in the middle of a Cabelas catalog). To my knowledge, their products have not made it to Japanese market though this amazing sweater will be featured on the cover of my Japan-only Archival Clothing 1986 brand catalog–in women’s sizes too!
Randomly, on the subject of waxed cotton, here’s a link to an interesting thread on waxed cotton garment rewaxing (and alternative methods of preparation and treatment). In a week or so, I’m going to designate a specific day as national waxed cotton garment treatment day. Stay tuned!
In prep for a short work week (and inspired by a recent screening of the documentary American Hardcore), I kept things simple today with a collapsible, uninsulated, short billed Filson cap (noted here in its original three step origami fold). Since I spent most of the day in meetings I have no additional notes on the character-buidling properties of tin cloth (disclaimer: I did not actually wear this cap on my head today–it simply rode around with me, coin purse style, in my coat pocket). A related Filson workplace moment: three coworkers exited the library tonight sporting three different styles of Filson field bags (two in tan twill, one in olive). Wunderbar!
Until Filson introduces a new product line for women, I’m relying on tin cloth Mondays to reignite my excitement over the Filson family of waxed fabric brands.
Today, I sported my classic tin jacket w/wool facing collar (a discontinued garment, I think). Though I’d love to report on the rain deflecting properties of this garment–my own lapsed rewaxing regimen caused the shoulder seams to leak. Scheduling a special viewing of the five disc Criterion edition of Fanny and Alexander so I can motivate myself to rewax the whole coat (a complicated process involving a blow dryer, old rags, an ironing board and a tin of wax warmed in a double boiler on the stove).
Remember: Filson tin cloth (fabric of penance) is now the official fabric of Mondays. Plausible simulations/substitutions by Carhartt and Mcalister will also be accepted. Bonus points for newly waxed garments or those sporting double layers of tin fabric (like my double tin pants).
Renewing my austerity vows, I’m trying to locate items from my own home closet to sport for the new Fall fashion season. It helps that I’m an epic pack rat with still unopened boxes from my last two moves (souvenirs from 2001 trip to Tokyo or a genuine Rosie O’Donnell barbie doll w/prop microphone anyone?). For the most part, austerity shopping consists of visiting the laundry room and unpacking a new box. Today, I made two major purchases: one for me–a pair of double tin Filson waxed trousers, tags intact–and one for Sara–a barbour quilt vest with polarfleece lining. The Filson pants were purchased off ebay some time ago. I originally bid on them because the gallery image implied that they were the more user friendly, unwaxed, single tin version. I ended up winning the pants on a superlow bid because they were already ready tailored to my oddball dimensions: adult waist, childish length. Though I’ve never actually worn the pants I’ve kept them around, for one, because they’re lovely artifacts, and two, because they might have future use value under post-apocalyptic conditions (the fabric is so rigid, so profoundly two dimensional, almost thing-like, that it took me a full five minutes to work myself into both pant legs)(an experience akin to having a complete wax casting made of your lower body). Anyway, I’ve decided that for the sake of austerity I’m going to push forward and start wearing these pants (on a daily basis?) especially since they feel like body armor and clean up with a soapy sponge. In a future entry, I shall report on the futility of my austerity program in the likely event that I develop some sort of fatal waxed fabric friction rash.