From the Desk of … the Filson Chief Creative Officer
When you think of a man steering a heritage brand, your mind conjures up someone a lot like Alex Carleton. Rugged and weathered, with a graveled voice and a near encyclopedic knowledge of menswear and Americana. Carleton is like the cool professor you remember from college—the one you could listen to for hours. A few years ago, shortly after taking the reins of Filson (after tours of duty at Ralph Lauren and L.L.Bean), he was walking me through the new flagship store in the brand’s hometown of Seattle. Referencing such iconic WPA building projects as Mt. Hood’s Timberline Lodge, every corner of the shop was overseen by local artisans and craftsmen—from the period-specific working fireplace to the towering cubist totem pole in the store’s two-story entryway.
That’s just the kind of stuff that delights Carleton: the intersection of provenance, utility and good design. Every item he and his design team put out looks great, sure, but it’s made first and foremost to function. Pick up something from Filson and you’ll see it stamped with “Filson, Since 1897.” It’s a salute to the brand’s lineage, of course, but it’s also something of a promise. That these items are built tough—the old fashioned way.
At the same time, Filson is always expanding its boundaries and that’s what Carleton’s job is all about. He’s charged with keeping Filson faithful to its roots, while weaving new ideas into the threads of the brand. Nearly a decade in at the helm, it’s clear that he’s doing a good job. A known collector, I figured that his office would be worth exploring while learning a little bit more about his creative process. We caught up with him recently to dig around his desk and it didn’t disappoint.