Created during the Klondike Gold Rush, Filson has been making expertly designed, high quality outdoor active wear and accessories since 1897. Filson, headquartered in Seattle, has established itself as the quintessential American outdoor brand, renowned for making products in the USA with expert craftsmanship from the finest fabrics and materials. Traditionally a men’s workwear line, the brand has slowly been making their transition into women’s apparel, bringing their same sky-high standards to the women’s outdoor and workwear market with a launch of tops, jackets, bags, vests and more. Spearheading this transition is Aude Tabet, a veteran designer from New York City, whose stellar reputation and resume make her the perfect choice to expand the classic label’s horizon into the womens’ outdoor and activewear market.
Born in France, Tabet got her start in Paris’ textile design industry and then moved to New York in the 1980s to pursue a career in American fashion and enjoy all things fabulous the big city has to offer. She worked for a number of iconic labels including Abercrombie & Fitch and Coach, and was later handpicked to help launch Marc Jacob’s renowned diffusion line, Marc by Marc Jacobs, where she would spend the next decade and a half honing her creativity and crafting her design skills. In 2015, ready for a change, Tabet accepted the director of product design and development position at Filson, trading the concrete jungle of Manhattan for a more serene, outdoor existence on the West Coast. It’s a move that the label and its customers couldn’t be happier with, as her eye for style and attention to detail has helped cultivate a line of women’s outdoor and active wear that is both fashionable and functional.
We met with the Filson designer to talk about her cross-country transition and get a peak into the brand’s new womenswear line- revealing her faves from the current season and giving us some perfect present ideas the outdoor enthusiasts on your Christmas list.
How long have you been with Filson?
Almost three years now.
What was the transition like from Marc Jacobs to Filson?
It was very exciting. I worked for Marc Jacobs/LVMH for 15 years, which was incredible schooling. I really learned quality; quality was the foremost important issue there and it’s the foremost important issue here at Filson. It was incredible training for me so now I am able to do this job well and help to get Filson to where it is right now.
I am from Seattle, it’s my hometown. I’m curious about what it was like coming from living a New York City life to the very, very different West Coast lifestyle?
It was a fantastic transition. I really don’t miss New York City a bit. I love being on the West Coast. I definitely miss some people and some of my close friends and I miss New England at times, because I love it there, but, I love being on the West Coast. I’ve always been outdoorsy. It’s such a beautiful experience and Seattle is incredible. And culturally, you know, it’s really important, because the brand (Filson) is a West Coast Brand, it’s a Seattle brand and you really couldn’t work on this brand from any place else. You have to be there (in Seattle).
What about the contrast in style from New York to the West Coast. Are there any trends that you are seeing that you really like? Or is there anything you would like to see more of?
Filson is definitely the one brand from a style perspective that I can identify with. Just how classic it is, grounded, earthy, and timeless. It’s not ‘fashion’, its pure American style. There’s just too much in New York City in my opinion, too much fashion happening. It’s so refreshing not to be doing that now, I just love it. In New York, fashion changes every season, every few months and that can be too much. Filson is about staple pieces. You can put them away and pull them out in 10 years and you can still wear them; it’s completely timeless.
What’s happening with Filson for the Fall/Winter seasons? What was the emphasis on and what are you excited about?
Expanding the product range! We started working on women’s a few years ago but we’re taking baby steps and moving very slowly into the category. There is lots of room for us there but we want to move slow. In the outdoor (apparel) industry, the revenue is 51% for women so there is hue potential for us there but we want to do it right. We decided to start with shoulder pieces, shirts, outerwear, accessories; things that feel natural for Filson.
Filson is a workwear brand. Why the transition into womenswear?
We definitely are a workwear brand and we outfit ranchers, guys in the logging industry- this hasn’t changed. [For this industry] women buy men’s apparel because they can’t find it for themselves and they want it. We played off the style of our menswear and tailored the pieces for women- fitted them, really spent a lot of time on fitting to make sure that we marry function and design. Function comes first, but we know it has to be appealing to women because women want to feel ‘pretty’ no matter what their style is.
How do you pull in feminine qualities to pieces that are modeled after menswear?
It’s all about proportions- where you give the piece more ease and where you take it in. The challenge is to make something functional and feminine. Feminine doesn’t necessarily mean ‘girly’ either and that’s really important for us.
What are some of your favorites from the women’s line? What are some standouts?
My favorite? That’s a really hard question for me (laughs), but I guess that’s a good problem to have. Probably the trapper coat. It’s the same inspiration as some of our men’s coats, it comes from the same place, but it’s made for a woman and you can tell. On the hanger they look similar but once you put it on, it’s no longer the same coat. Also, The Cruiser-it’s a legacy style and it’s a classic. The Cascade Down Vest is amazing too.
What’s in the future for Filson?
We are starting to work on pants for women. It’s interesting- there’s a really nice potential to do classic women’s work pants that are really attractive, functional and cool. Whatever we do, we will continue to focus on high quality, the same quality level and attention to detail in everything we make.