|Adventures begin in the mind and live in the spirit. Whether you're trompsing bamboo forests to photograph introverted orangutans, snagging DNA samples from snoozing bison, or pounding the concrete jungle for the perfect latte, let our experienced expedition-wear tell the world you mean Business!|
Most intrepid Expeditionists value the gear that will properly get them there and back, including, of course, their clothing. On this subject you may frequently see reference to the outstanding expedition-wear from Willis & Geiger Outfitters; for A Brief History, check out our link, at the top of all our auctions.
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As an expeditionist, I have had many notable clients, some of whom would wonder, upon completion of their safari, what to do with the clothes they bought for their once-in-a-lifetime adventure. So we started posting them here on eBay, so the torch of adventure could be passed to a new owner, ready to begin his own personal sojourn, with clothing that has already proven itself.
Most of the items we post here are on consignment from an owner that has been out in the trenches, and in the jungles. Archeologists and photojournalists, writers and bons vivants, sailors and soldiers of fortune, we've seen 'em all. And when we post their stuff here on eBay we like to tell you a bit of the item's history, if we know it, with the notion that maybe, somehow, an experienced garment will mystically impart it's experience on the new wearer....
I've certainly heard stranger things ...
So please, look through our offerings. Feel free to write us with any questions you might have. And be sure to check back often. We have a mountain of consignments waiting to be posted, and when not tending our bamboo preserve, I'm usually in the office trying to document more fine, experienced expedition-wear as ads for eBay.
Willis & Geiger Outfitters
Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, Sir Edmund Hillary, heck even Teddy Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway and Bamboo Dan. What do they all have in common? They were all renowned explorers (okay, maybe Bamboo Dan is just a legend in his own mind ... ) and they all wore clothing supplied by Willis & Geiger Outfitters.
If you know expedition gear, you know Willis & Geiger; the name is synonymous with adventure. In 1902 Ben Willis couldn’t find suitable protective gear for a sub-arctic expedition, so he designed his own. And the outfitting legend was born. Later partnering with Howard Geiger, they had a singular maxim: “Don’t tell us how to make it cheaper, tell us how to make it better.” Sad today that few retailers, if any, have that same commitment to excellence.
Willis & Geiger prospered up through the 1970s, as can readily be seen on the ‘brag’ label in most of their clothing, touting such accomplishments as:
· 1908 - Outfitted Teddy Roosevelt for Jouneys to Alaska and Africa
· 1917-18 – Outfitted U.S. Aviation and Alpine Troops in WWI
· 1926-29 - Outfitted Adm. Byrd’s Flights over the North and South Poles
· 1931 - Awarded U.S. Army Air Force Contract for A-2 Flight Jacket
· 1936- Outfitted Ernest Hemingway with Bush Jacket of his Own Design
· 1939 - Outfitted American Volunteer Group, the “Flying Tigers,” Fighting in China;
· 1953 - Outfitted Sir Edmund Hillary’s Climb of Mount Everest
· 1953 – Outfitted Clark Gable and Grace Kelly for the film “Mogambo”
· 1970s - Outfitted Jim Fowler for the Television Series “Wild Kingdom”
· 1988 – Re-spec’d the A-2 Flight Jacket for U.S. Air Force
· 1992 – Outfitted First Around-the World Air Race
And on and on. The list of Willis & Geiger aficionados is a veritable Who’s Who of Expeditionists, actors, and celebrities large and small. And a fair few of us regular joe’s that appreciate a well-designed hunk of cloth that can not only do its intended job well, but look great too.
The company prospered up through the 1970s. Sadly, Willis & Geiger foundered when Abercrombie & Fitch went bankrupt in 1977; A&F had been their chief retail outlet, with W&G their largest debt. W&G went through a painful series of resurrections and buyouts, and in 1994 they were bought by Lands’ End; operations all but ceased in 1999. Lands’ End still occasionally releases items with the Willis & Geiger label on their own website, but unfortunately, the quality doesn’t seem to match the W&G reputation.
When you see an original - vintage - Willis & Geiger garment, you know it was made to stand the test of time. And often it is made from their signature W&G 340 Bush Poplin, that marvelous abrasion-resistant wonder cloth. As the label says: “Willis & Geiger: 100% Cotton Bush Poplin. Developed in the 1930’s by Willis & Geiger to fulfill the demand of world adventurers, explorers and outdoorsmen, this high twist, ply, tightly woven 7.5 oz sueded, durable water resistant, mercerized cotton cloth continues unsurpassed today in abrasion resistance and functional efficacy.” It is reputed to turn mosquitos, thorns, and by one account at least, snakes. It remains the standard to which all other outfitters aspire, yet few achieve.
So when you see an authentic Willis & Geiger item with a hefty price tag, please keep in mind that you are buying a piece of history, not just a perfect arrangement of horn buttons and thread. It will likely outlast you, as it should be.
If you are a student of expeditionary history, there are more in-depth accounts of Willis & Geiger available. One we are particularly fond of is: CampSmoke at http://campsmoke.fmallen.com/?p=749.