A near death experience spawns a beloved brand.
They say that necessity is the mother of invention. It certainly was for Eddie Bauer. After experiencing hypothermia during a fishing trip in the winter of 1923, Eddie realized he needed to come up with something that was lighter, warmer and drier than the heavy wool garments of the time. After some experimentation with different designs, he hit upon the idea of the quilted down jacket, the Skyliner, a design that is still sold today.
World War II brought unexpected opportunities to the fledgling Washington company. High-altitude bombing strategies required new methods for keeping crews warm in unpressurized planes. Eddie Bauer answered the call, coming up with a new down-filled flight parka. He was the only manufacturer allowed by the U.S. Army to put a logo on combat gear, the label proudly proclaiming “Eddie Bauer Seattle U.S.A.”
The company extended its line of supplies to include backpacks, pants and sleeping bags during the war, the company producing 100,000 sleeping bags for troops overseas. This expansion played perfectly into the company’s post-war plans when their first mail-order catalogs were sent out to soldiers who wore Eddie Bauer clothing in battle and understood its quality and value.
Eddie Bauer has always been at the forefront of bringing new ideas to market. The company outfitted explorers, adventurers and scientists who battled the elements in some of the most hostile locations in the world, including the American assault on Mount Everest. Fittingly, the photo of the first American to reach the summit, James Whittaker, shows him in an Eddie Bauer jacket.
Through the years, the company has continued to reinvent itself and the idea of outerwear at the same time, shifting focus from exclusively outdoor apparel and equipment to casual lifestyle apparel lines, including women’s and children’s clothing and accessories that were sold at retail, in the mailorder catalog and online.
Cross-branding opportunities have further expanded the company’s reputation and extended its brand, including a partnership with Ford to offer a line of limited edition “Eddie Bauer” trucks. The company also entered the home furnishings category, offering furniture, tableware, décor items and linens through its Eddie Bauer Home outlets.
Today, the company continues to represent the pioneer spirit of the state it has called home for nearly a century and build upon its founder’s love of the outdoors, its reputation for innovation and unwavering focus on the customer, as captured in Eddie Bauer’s original creed that continues to guide the company today:
“To give you such outstanding quality, value, service and guarantee that we may be worthy of your high esteem.”
Want to know more about the company? Visit eddiebauer.com.