From the
Desk of ...

Alex Carleton

Chief Creative Officer, Filson

Work desk of Filson Chief Creative Officer Alex Carleton
Work desk of Filson Chief Creative Officer Alex Carleton

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.

What’s currently
on my desk

  • Antique blanket
  • Bird dog training toy
  • Protect Sea Wolves bumper sticker (and assorted other stickers)
  • Flyfish Journal magazine
  • Sketches, merchandising decks and creative briefs
  • Some older Filson catalogs that I particularly like
  • A couple different thermoses
  • Rays Bar x Filson baseball cap
  • Oberto beef jerky
    (I like the thin-style for snaking)
  • Charcoal dental floss
  • A woodsy candle from Orcas Island Candle Co.
  • Protective eyewear from Duluth (discontinued, which is a bummer)
Alex Carleton portrait

The newest thing on my desk at the moment ...

Is a blaze orange thermos from Stanley. They still make stellar products and this has a trigger-action lid that's easy and leak-proof.

But the most sentimental item on my desk ...

Has to be a picture of my dogs. We're a very dog-friendly workplace. That's one of our office dogs, Aurora (seen below), guarding my desk right now.

My calendar system
is pretty simple.

I use Outlook calendar. All day, everyday and so does my team. It just makes everything streamlined. I don't use any other productivity tools or apps. Stick with what works, right?

Sharpie markers
Sharpie markers

But I take a lot of notes.

I type long emails on my phone and can't go to one meeting without sharpies and paper to scribble on.

Alex Carleton's work desk
Alex Carleton's work desk

I’m not against having lunch
at your desk.

If you love your work, I guess there's no harm. But as you can see, there's no room at my desk to eat. So I'll eat at other people's desks who are neater than me.

My schedule is never
really the same.

My only routine is getting up early and working out. My alarm goes off at 4 am and I'm at the gym each day by five. But then, once I get to the office ... every day is a little different. But I like that.

If I have to really focus, I’ll block out everyone around me.

When I want to concentrate, I'll use the noise cancelling feature on my earbuds and right now I'm wicked into 'The Rig' soundtrack by Blanck Mass.

Thankfully, I don’t really get into creative lulls.

Honestly, I have the opposite problem: too many things I want to do and not enough hours in the day to execute them all.


Seattle life preserver

I don’t “switch off” after work.

Why would I? This is the funnest job I've ever had and my colleagues have become my family. That said, I do need some alone time. Pretty much daily. Even if it's only 30 minutes. A quick walk in the woods, a good workout or crashing on the floor in front of the fire. I need that time alone just to decompress.

Seattle life preserver

I read a lot.
I always have.

Growing up reading a lot really inspired me. I love narrators who conjure worlds and I think it has a lot to do with why I do what I do now.

I’ve definitely come a long way from my first job. I didn’t even have a desk.

I was working in a butcher shop in Massachusetts. I don't go home smelling like raw meat anymore.

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the Filson Team
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