Well, it’s that time of the year in the UK to get the heavy layers ready for another cold & wet winter.
Recently I’ve been asked a lot of questions regarding the size, fit and quality of Vests by one of my favourite brands – Filson.
Filson Mackinaw Wool Vest come in 2 styles – The Alaska Fit and the Western, both very different in appearance but both absolutely superb at their jobs and built from the finest materials.
Let me tell you a little about the brand. Still relatively unknown here in the UK Filson began in Seattle way back in 1897, so to talk of heritage is something the Filson brand is only all to familiar with.
Clinton C. Filson was born in 1850 in Nebraska and moved to Seattle in the 1890s.
Around this time he opened C.C. Filson’s Pioneer Alaska Clothing and Blanket Manufacturers, specialising in goods to outfit the stampeders of the Klondike Gold Rush, the men heading north needed tough, durable, warm clothing and Filson was ready and waiting.
From those days until present day, Filson has always used the finest materials to make their garments, keeping a close contact with their customers to improve the goods to meet specific needs.
‘He owned his own mill and manufactured Mackinaw Wool clothing and blankets, knit goods, as well as selling boots, shoes, moccasins and sleeping bags specially designed for the frigid North. The stampeders depended on Filson. In that era, clothing wasn’t a matter of choice, but of survival.’
The Filson Mackinaw Wool Alaska Fit Vest
The first Filson Vest I obtained would have been around 4 years ago. It was a Mackinaw Wool Alaska Vest in black and grey plaid.
I fell in love with it as soon as it dropped. The heavy Wool almost feels like a thick felt that punches away cold and locks heat in.
It’s a really versatile Vest, at home in both the city or woods due to the big, non bulging handwarmer pockets. There is also a large chest pocket big enough to house a large notebook mirroring the opposite side pocket divided into 3 sections to hold thick pens, thin torches, cartridges or suchlike.
The front has 5 big, rugged buttons that come up the chest just high enough.
The fit itself isn’t like a tailored waistcoat, oh no, this is built to go over thick shirts, heavy sweaters and even jackets. It’s a straight, boxy cut which (if like me, you lost your Steve Reeve ‘V’ torso years ago) I find very flattering and comfortable. Teaming them up with a Filson, Woolrich or heavy Barbour shirt untucked with a pair of jeans is great, but even a button down chambray, tie and chinos can enhance these superb Vests, as I said, they really are that versatile.
The Filson Western Mackinaw Wool Vest
Shortly after the arrival of my first Filson Vest, I discovered the Western style.
This is a beautiful garment. Again, the cut is very straight and the Wool is just as thick.
The main differences in the Western Vest is the addition of the lapels that are by no means subtle like the ones seen on Country Harris Tweed waistcoats. These are big, and the collar is high, it requires a lot of bedding in until it sits comfortably around the neck and chest. Also the more traditional looking internal pockets and open cut bottom give this a more classic, vintage sort of look. Again, anything and everything looks amazing with this Vest, if you’re a rugged type of fellow or just looking for a nice, brash looking waistcoat as opposed to the finesse of the tailored ones out there, this is your Vest right here!!!
A note for anyone wishing to get hold of these excellent Vests – due to Filson still being quite rare in the UK, most of my garments have been purchased from US. That said, I recently picked up a RARE Whipcord Virgin Wool Western Vest from Aceo Clothing right here in the UK. They stock some very good Filson garments and the owner, Phil is a really helpful guy, take a look at his site www.adeoclothing.co.uk
I strongly urge you to check out Filsons website and read their heritage – their motto is ‘Might as Well Have the Best’ and this still counts today.
“The goods we quote must not be confounded with the cheap and vastly inferior grade with which the market is over-run. Such goods are not only useless for the purpose for which they are intended, but the person wearing them would be better off without them.”
— Clinton C. Filson, 1914 catalog