Eddie Bauer isn’t a name made up by marketing gurus. Eddie Bauer was a real man — an Orcas Island-born lover of the outdoors who turned his passion into a successful business when he opened Eddie Bauer’s Sport Shop in Seattle in 1920. In the 1940s, Bauer was commissioned by the United States Army Air Corps to manufacture parkas, sleeping bags, backpacks, and more for World War II, and his products were well received. Soldiers from across the country wrote Bauer, asking where they could get more of the goose down gear. After investing years of his life outfitting outdoor enthusiasts across the country, Bauer split business efforts with his friend William Niemi, eventually selling his interest in the company to Niemi in 1968. Bauer, as one might anticipate, retreated to the outdoors to fish, hunt, and raise Labrador Retrievers.
Today, the Eddie Bauer brand, with more than 400 stores across the globe, carries on its founder’s values of innovation, passionate product design, and a love of the outdoors. Its Bellevue headquarters occupies seven floors in Lincoln Square, with a flagship retail store across the street in Bellevue Square. The store features the brand’s first-ever “Ice Box,” offering customers a chance to step into a room with sub-zero conditions to test out apparel before purchasing.
Inside the office, an archive museum stores more than 1,000 brand-related garments, artifacts, and photos. Company sponsored rock climbing, paddle boarding, yoga, skiing, and more are offered to employees each month. The company also offers “Live Your Adventure” paid time off, which encourages employees to spend time outdoors.
A rich history – Resident historian Colin Berg explains the brand’s heritage story through historical clothing and memorabilia.
Made for adventure – Melissa Arnot, one of the Eddie Bauer alpine climbing guides, ascends a ridge on Ama Dablam in Nepal in 2009.
A personal touch – The archive museum begins with Eddie’s desk, where a copy of the cover letter that went out with the first edition of the “Eddie Bauer Alaska Outfitter” catalog from 1945 is displayed. The letters were individually addressed to customers and signed by Eddie.
Timeless designs – The new Eddie Bauer Originals collection revisits some of the iconic styles first developed by Eddie, and includes brief histories sewn into the lining.
A perfect fit – The design teams test fit and fabric to make sure garments are perfect before going to production.
Proven and trusted – Field tester jackets were used to test the apparel in real outdoor weather situations.
Rugged and stylish – The 1940 Skyliner Jacket, first introduced in 1936, is the oldest version of Eddie’s original down jacket, and the first patented in America.
A familiar building – The headquarters is located in Lincoln Square in the heart of downtown Bellevue.
Prime real estate – Eddie Bauer’s main lobby, with views of Bellevue and the Olympics, features current products similar to what customers would see in a store’s window display. The office occupies seven floors in Lincoln Square.
A creative space – The in-house photo studio is where the photo team builds sets and photographs products for online and catalogs. Their work stations are filled with inspiration and clips from past shoots.
Quiet on the set – The Visual Merchandising team works in the office’s mock stores to plan and set what customers will see when they enter actual retail stores.
An ongoing legacy – The Eddie Bauer Archives help to preserve the brand’s heritage and ensure the continuing relevance of Eddie Bauer’s legacy of adventure-driven innovation.
- A handpicked crew of world-class athletes helps design, develop, and test gear in harsh conditions.
- It’s not uncommon to run into famous alpine climbing guides like Melissa Arnot and Dave Hahn, or professional skiers like Lynsey Dyer and Drew Tabke.
- With views of Lake Washington and Mount Rainier, employees are surrounded with outdoor inspiration while they’re at the office.
Office opened: 2007
Square footage: 156,000
This article originally appeared in the December 2016 issue of “425 Business.”