Heritage outdoor outfitter Filson has tapped Paolo Corinaldesi as chief executive officer.
The sixth ceo in the Seattle-based company’s 124-year history, Corinaldesi joins as part of his role with WP Lavori, the international apparel brand licensee, distributor and retail group, where he served as global strategist. WP Lavoli made a multimillion-dollar investment in Filson in 2020, acquiring 10 percent of the company, to partner with Bedrock Manufacturing Company, the parent company of Filson.
“WP Lavori identified Filson as a brand with universal appeal. Even in a year like 2020, Filson proved its resiliency, with double-digit e-commerce growth amid a global pandemic and economic crisis,” Corinaldesi said.
Heading into 2021, the ceo said the brand is in a great position, “thanks to the leadership of Tom Kartsotis and Alex Carleton [founder of Bedrock and chief creative officer of Filson, respectively], who have built a phenomenal foundation for our business.” In the immediate future, he said the brand plans to invest in e-commerce and retail locations, with new customer acquisition earmarked as a priority.
“We also see a huge opportunity with international expansion,” he said. “WP Lavori’s investment in Filson brings us the ability to tap into the European market, as they have successfully done with Vans and Woolrich. I believe there is the potential for Filson’s worldwide growth, as it’s a brand with a unique heritage and story that is recognized globally.”
Due to COVID-19, the ceo’s retail opening plan in 2021 “will largely depend on how the pandemic unfolds and if and how lockdown orders impact the cities and countries where we plan openings.”
He continued, “There will always be a need for high touch experiences that engage, inform and entertain guests. That said, we do have new locations in North America, Europe and Asia in mind when the time is right.”
Filson started as a clothing and blanket manufacturer that outfitted men who were seeking their fortune during the Alaska Gold Rush — selling hard-wearing, durable gear that was guaranteed to perform in the most demanding conditions. It’s a legacy the brand continues to evolve, even dabbling in a fashion-forward lane, once briefly tapping designer Richard Chai as creative director. Most recently the brand partnered with Ford on a concept car and capsule collection.
“With partners and collaborators, we work with makers and brands that share a similar ethos and who might complement our existing assortment,“ explained Carleton. “We approach design and product development more as ‘problem solvers’ and less about ‘look.’ Therein, the look of Filson becomes defined: understated and purposeful.
“While consistency and function characterize our handwriting — our development teams regularly mine our rich heritage and brand culture to conjure up unexpected surprises,” Carleton said.
“For over a century, Filson has shown discipline in maintaining its roots and spirit, and we won’t be departing from that,” the new ceo added, when asked about the brand’s aesthetic moving forward.
According to Corinaldesi, the brand’s sales “are up 15 percent from a year ago, and certain categories, like our outerwear sales, are up 16 percent, so it’s quite remarkable to experience double-digit growth in a tumultuous year.”
He attributed this to people spending more time outdoors, adding that “we’ve seen returning and new customers alike purchasing our apparel and gear because it is designed and tested in harsh conditions.”
“Filson continues to make waves more than 120 years after it was founded, so the potential for growth will allow WP Lavori to make a return on the investment in a matter of a few years,” Corinaldesi said.