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    This is TMAP — philosophy

    The new season at Filson

    The most attractive people are busy living their lives. Trend-setters are rarely members of the world of trends. They're the people who do what they do because it's what they need to do. Everyone sees them. People often mistake their brilliance and their intention for their looks. This is how everyone wound up wearing jeans and white t-shirts. This is why Che Guevara and Bob Marley are best known as logos.

    A professional can look past the outside and see the reason these people are the way they are. The people who have a conscience and can suss out that line usually wind up carrying the torch.

    It's similar for companies, except that the most successful ones live longer than people.

    And now, the world of trends is bending toward Filson because people are beginning to recognize the difference between consumption and legacy. The best quote I ever read in a Filson catalog was something along the lines of "You may have noticed that vests are in style right now. We never stopped making them. Here they are." I think that perfectly captures Filson's spot in the marketplace.


    The reason I'm writing this post is that I just met with my Filson representative, Jordan, at the 1st Ave factory in Seattle. We talked about the new products coming out for the upcoming season. Some of the changes are significant, and I was very pleasantly surprised at their acumen. They're expanding their selection into a new market, without watering down their mission.

    It would be madness to expect Filson to ignore their own popularity, and to ignore the fact that sales of their new line of "Seattle fit" products has flown off shelves. They've been working to identify what it is that has shone this light on them, and I think they figured it out. It's that their stuff is storied, and tough, and if it ever fails you, or if you destroy it, they'll repair it or give you a new one.

    They're adapting their focus on utility for an audience whose utility is as much style as it is ruggedness. If I spend 40 hours a week smashing metal, I wear a tin cruiser. If I spend 40 hours a week in meetings about international trade, I wear a dark gray suit with a simple tie. If I spend 8 hours a week smashing metal, and 50 in meetings about metalwork, then the coat I wear to both places is the Westlake. Recognizing what true utility means to you, and seeking it out is what professionals do.


    So, get ready. Starting in June I'll be posting some new products when Filson releases them to the public. I will, of course, keep selling the Tin Cloth gear, but I will also recognize that customers have bought three times more soy wax short cruisers from me than tin cruisers.

    I'll also be adding some shirts, a few new jackets, a pair of pants, and some new bags that will be made in their new Idaho factory.

    The TMAP mission

    On a recent trip to Argentina I was reading through Inc. Magazine. It's a pretty amazing source of information for the entrepreneur. I was genuinely surprised by the breadth and applicability. I had been sure it would be a moderately useful Business-Bro publication. In fact I read it cover to cover. That could mean I'm a business-bro, but I doubt it.

    While my brain was on fire with ideas, I did some work on narrowing down what drives the TMAP brand. Asimov was an inspiration.

    We seek to carry products that satisfy these rules. The first two are inflexible requirements except in the complexity of their evaluation. The rest are merely goals to seek.



    1. Ethical
    Although we understand the question of ethics is hazy, we stand against injustice. We sell products that do not unduly strain the world or the minds in it. This is the most important measure of work, and we need to hold each other accountable to this.

    2. Effective

    Products, like professionals, should do the jobs they set out to do. This is the second most important measure of work.



    3. Lasting

    A product that lasts your lifetime often increases in value as time passes, and its cost per use falls. Longevity is a very attractive feature for a useful product, and should be a priority, so long as it does not interfere with a product's effectiveness.

    4. Maintainable

    A product that can be maintained over its lifetime serves its owner in many ways. Every time that product is repaired it is improved, like the callus that improves your hand. A scar on a good product reveals the story of that product, educates you, and establishes a relationship with it.

    5. Repeatable

    To sell a one-off, like an antique, undermines the idea of being a retailer.

    6. Beautiful

    The lowest priority, except when one of the problems being solved by the product is an aesthetic one.

    Cell phones probably aren't ruining us.

    Cell phones probably aren't ruining us, but worrying about them is a good thing to do.

    Here's an article from FastCompany chastising Apple for a recent ad they made.

    From the article:

    "In what should be a warm, humanizing montage, people are constantly directing their attention away from one another and the real, panoramic world to soak in pixels. They’re choosing the experience of their products over the experience of other people several times in quick succession. And Apple has a warm voice in the background, goading us on."

    Where I agree with this article is at its core. We're definitely seeing more times and experiences getting overtaken my these devices. Apple, in doing a perfectly reasonable thing for their business, is either intentionally or unintentionally "consecrating the behavior". That makes me a little uneasy too. All of this technology is still new, and we're still working on developing social etiquette around it. We don't have a "normal" or an "appropriate" established yet, and it's not helping to have Apple tell us that it's normal to have their products in bed with us and our cute children.

    But, in Apple's (maybe I mean "in American culture's") defense, cell phones, which are very sophisticated tools, still spend most of their time in pockets, because most people are still just using them as tools. The ability to easily and quickly catalog beautiful things and wonderful moments in our lives is one of the most amazing things that cell phone cameras have done for us, and because this is an ad for those products, it makes sense to show videos of people using Apple products during those moments.

    It can, of course, be a problem when the ability to catalog becomes a compulsion to catalog, or when it interferes with a person's actual participation in reality. I'm sure there are thousands of hours of home camcorder footage of someone saying "put the camera down". I think this is the underlying fear informing this article's disparaging message. It doesn't trust anyone to not be the person viewing the world filtered through the pinhole lens of a device. It's incredibly frustrating to watch the people around you uploading their presences to the internet, but most of the people I know are still good at being people, and setting good boundaries, so I'm not inherently afraid of people using their silly little cameras to snap a shot of some trifle they wish their siblings could see. I'll speak up only when I worry about them failing to experience where they are.

    So, it is okay to act like the people in these ads sometimes - to have these products present in our most beautiful moments - but only when they disappear into the number of times that we are too distracted by our experiences to think about cataloging them.

    Urban design and the movable chair

    Architecture wasn't always a living pun. There was a time when conversations about architecture could include words like chair, tree, and sidewalk. The discussion could revolve around simple concepts. An essay could have an identifiable and usable thesis.

    Occasionally I encounter a thing which rekindles my fascination with architecture and reminds me what about it is so appealing. This video is one such thing. How perfectly comprehensible and actionable is the information delivered in here.


    William H. Whyte: The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces - The Street Corner from MAS on Vimeo.


    Perhaps a bit of a departure, but this video is superb first for its content and second for how unconcerned they are with sounding smart (and how smart they sound as a result). Kudos to the people who made it!


    In old probably-fabricated memories from my childhood I can hear this advice from my dad: son, you ought to avoid taking jobs that require a uniform.

    This advice has stirred in my mind for the last two decades and is on the cusp of becoming a manifesto about identity. It informs my clothing choices at the very least, and it has certainly has an effect on the shape of TMAP.

    It's easy to pick a look and wear it every day. There are many people with similar beliefs and personalities to yours. The internet will show you thousands of options, and they can each bend slightly further in your direction. If you're lucky, you'll effectively be wearing your own clothes. Besides, you'll save the people you meet a lot of time when they can quickly drape you in shared cultural associations. But after three days, the outfit wears you, so you'd better choose wisely.

    Being a professional is not about wearing a pinstripe suit any more than it is about wearing a heavy cotton duck work coat, or ordering people around, or having an MBA. Being a professional is about taking what you do seriously, and being confident in the knowledge that when you do it, it's worth money.

    We wear outfits to suit our environment. At a wedding you wear a suit because that's what's done. Under a truck you wear black everything to hide the grease stains. At a cocktail party you get a little weird.

    Knowing where you are and what the context demands of your behavior; knowing what's expected of you and how to do it: these are the marks of professionalism. It's how you know you're the one wearing the suit and not the other way around.