Filson Restoration Department - Seattle, WA

Menswear & Goods, Design

Filson Restoration Department - Seattle, WA

“If I hadn’t broken my back, we wouldn’t be sitting here together,” said Evan Franz.

After sustaining a back injury snowboarding, journeyman musician Evan Franz took stock of his life and chose to refocus, scaling back on pursuits in music, deciding instead to follow another passion: he learned to sew. Franz recently began work as FRD Coordinator at Seattle’s C.C. Filson, a 117-year-old outfitter for the avid outdoorsman specializing in products made in America, many made in Filson’s Seattle headquarters.

Franz (L) looks on as Chris Hanson (R) examines some worn belt leather.

FRD, short for Filson Restoration Department is a new pet project, partly the brainchild of Franz’s boss, Filson employee Chris Hanson, who began reconstructing long-forgotten luggage in the return bins.

“It was more like a returns corner,” Franz said, pointing to the section of the office he and Hanson turned into a makeshift workshop. “There were bins overflowing with repairs, and Evan and I had to do a lot of digging to uncover the gems you’ll find in FRD.”

The two spent the past year fleshing out a limited edition line from the discarded materials. Comprised of bags that pay respect to Filson’s famously durable luggage while speaking to the artistry of the repurposed item, to some — even within the doors of Filson — they are an acquired taste. Hanson admits it’s not for everyone, “but the guy who gets this will ¬love it and tell his friends about it.” FRD was created to introduce Filson to customers interested in vintage, well-worn goods.

In the past few months, Hanson and Franz have taken their show on the road, and already, the multi-city FRD tour has attracted a lot of attention. I learned about FRD while at Berkeley Supply in Denver, Colorado. I couldn’t wait to make my way to Seattle and see the operation for myself. And what a sight.

To say Franz is a natural is an understatement. “It’s been such a blessing having Evan here,” said Hanson. “He gets it. I have let him run loose with it, and the things he’s creating are better than anything I could’ve imagined.”

Watching in awe as Franz’s deepening concentration on the work shifted his disposition. When I asked him about it later, he made it sound as though he’d entered a zen-like state.

Referring to it as “complex simplicity,” for Franz, it’s more than just sewing. “It’s deep critical thinking, considering how to do it efficiently and ethically, while also making something altogether new and beautiful.” This juxtaposition drives Franz to do his best.

“This company is efficient. We use most of what we have. So much could go to waste, but we try to use it all. I realize what I am doing is a privilege, and there is a lot to do, but this feels like a very natural extension of what we at Filson are already doing.”

Filson Restoration Department

Seattle, WA

www.filson.com

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A Chicago-based storyteller, keeper of a whiskey blog and shop-owner who's known for his appreciation of America.