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Willis & Geiger

November 7, 2009

Before the days of North Face, Goretex, dayglo vests, Realtree camo, and other hideous modern synthetic sportswear, there was Willis & Geiger. The brand harks back to the days when outdoor sporting was the landed gentry’s pursuit. Their most popular jackets were made from cotton poplin, which was the preferred fabric used by British colonists when on safari.

I won’t go into the history here, since it’s already been done excellently at the F.M. Allen Campsmoke blog. The short of it is: a venerable niche sporting outfitter was bought and sold several times in the early 90’s. Each new owner had no idea what to do with the brand. Now out of production for about twenty years, this safari wear is fetching big bucks on eBay.

I had the luck of unearthing two amazing Willis & Geiger Hemingway  safari jackets recently. Happily, they attracted a frenzy of bidding from collectors.

Olive Hemingway jacket I sold at eBay auction for $162.29

Khaki Hemingway Safari jacket I sold at eBay auction for $184.25

The Hemingway Bush Jacket, according to Lost World Inc:

The natural choice for guys who don’t like belts on their jackets, attached or not. According to Willis & Geiger Outfitters, Ernest Hemingway himself designed this classic in the 1950s, specifying to the late, great Howard Geiger an elasticized waist as well as more dedicated hunting features than our Safari Bush Jacket. This waist construction works deftly in concert with the stylish inverted pleat back for all sorts of twisty outdoor and travel manipulations. Supportive but comfortable. Padded shooting patch; cartridge strip; bellowed front lower pockets; button sleeve pocket; button roll-up sleeve; button epaulet. Super for travel: lightweight, highly water resistant, very durable and stores virtually whatever one might need. Easily and popularly worn at night for genteel settings. Elegance and strength.

The Hemingway is so in demand that Lost World Inc. manufactures reproductions called Kilimanjaro,  as well as other very expensive W&G themed safari repros, all under their own brand.

Searches on eBay also turn up items such as W&G wristwatches, eyeglasses, shoes, and belts. I’m guessing many were manufactured in the mid 90’s as the new owners kept trying to figure out a way to cash in on the brand.

Select examples of sold items on ebay in the past 90 days:


Sold for $772 October 19th

Screen shot 2009-11-06 at 6.44.38 PM

Sold Nov 1st for $330

Screen shot 2009-11-06 at 7.00.24 PM

Sold for $184 Sept. 23rd


Sold for $203 Aug. 27th

Screen shot 2009-11-06 at 7.37.00 PM P1040296


P1040298 P1040297

Towards the end, things went  downhill, and the brand was extended into questionable styles:


Fortunately Willis & Geiger of the past lives on through ebay, and continues to inspire:


Dior Homme Safari M65 Runway Multipocket Jacket



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7 Comments leave one →
  1. BURT AVEDON and SUSAN COLBY permalink
    September 27, 2010 1:46 pm

    we appreciate the kind words…the company never went downhill….those sweaters were
    amazingly wonderful….BURT was president from 1978 till LANDS END closed it in 1999,
    and SUSAN joined BURT in 1986 as his design director….for an up date, take a look at
    “ended”….we just kept going as design and marketing consultants…….

    but the fun and adventure that is capture in W&G really belongs to what BURT brought to the company, as not only did he hunt in AFRICA as a professional after KOREA in the 50’s, but continued to fly for the USN…and in W&G gear which was really interesting that as a “young pilot” he should one day continue to hold up and build the brand…..all those labels shown were actually his ideas…particularly the HISTORY LABEL…he understood HERITAGE MARKETING before anyone else…..going back to a 60th reunion at HARVARD B SCHOOL, class of 1950…….all of those men in that class were subject to FORTUNE MAGAZINE writing an article back in the 70’s about how 80% of that class came back from the war, went to HARVARD and helped build the US after that.

    • Mark West permalink
      October 31, 2010 1:08 am


      It is truly wonderful to find you here on the www again.

      I still love your work, and often wonder what it would be like to have W and G back again.

      All the best,

      Mark West
      Carmel Indiana

    • W. Lee Roberts permalink
      February 11, 2011 7:36 am

      Mr. Avedon, thank you and Susan for a wonderful revival of the Willis and Geiger label in the late eighties.
      I purchased a pair of brown suede jodhpurs (my size 12 boots are 7″ high from leather last and shipped with individual tan corduroy shoe bags) from W&G sometime in the early nineties — one of my first post college splurges afforded by a job!
      I still own the boots and cherish them above all items in my wardrobe. The boots have been re-soled once by a local shop, but I do not want to let them do the currently needed repairs.
      1. Could you recommend someone to refurbish the boots?
      2. Who made the originals?
      3. Do you have any suggestions as to where one might have another pair or two custom made? (assuming they are no longer produced by original manufacturer) I have several friends who would love to have a pair of their own, one has been granted permission to loot my closet if I pass away first!

      I have photos of the boots and you can contact me via email

      Thank you for any help and suggestions.

      Thank you,
      North Carolina

      **If anyone reading my post has information on these boots, please feel free to contact me at the email address above.

  2. Julius Mazzarella permalink
    February 16, 2011 8:09 pm

    What a great company Burt Avedon and Susan Colby ! I loved the cloths I purchased from Willis & Geiger. They were such a pleasure to wear and I felt great all day at work. It sounds crazy but they were like a friend to me when I went to work. In addition I loved to read the catalogs as I pondered which item to buy. The catalogs got me through some very tough times at work. I would come home and see the catalog in the mail box and would look forward for an after dinner look see of what was new. And talk about functional, I recall buying a Diaplex jacket I ran and in for a decade of winters and kept me very warm with little bulk. The angora rabbit fur/cotton jersey as a base layer kept me warm in the winter. The bush poplin shirts and pants were my constant companions at work and home. The Ventile cloths were to die for. I don’t know who the vendors were but I wish you could document your work and vendors. I think it would be worth saving for the future. Nothing , nothing comes close Willis & Geiger and I have tried it all, North Face, Marmot, Patagonia, Orivs , Filson, etc. Willis & Geiger had it all , function, fun, class, and history.
    I don’t know if anyone will even ever read this. A Thank you. And maybe a bit of S.O.S.

    God bless you both.
    Julius Mazzarella

    • Michael Bershad permalink
      November 1, 2011 11:46 pm

      Julius- Yes, someone is reading your comments. I’m just another W & G lover and appreciated your comments very much. I too have been searching for the next best thing, and frankly haven’t found anything comparable. I did find a Barbour Field Jacket in their Beacon Heritage Collection, but it’s awfully expensive. I’ve got to admit, it’s a beauty, though. I guess that in general Orvis is the closest to any retailer who handles the sort of clothing we’re looking for.

  3. April 14, 2011 5:31 pm

    Forever a fan. I am honored to know Burt & Susan and to have helped design the Skeleton Coast Camera Jacket & Shirt. In my travels all over the world, including Antarctica, I always traveled in the spirit that they infused into Willis & Geiger. Wherever legends were made in the 20th Century, Willis & Geiger was there. Susan, I really enjoyed our safari in Kenya- seems like yesterday.

    Warmest Regards,

    Jim Bruton

  4. Fred'K Hellman permalink
    June 14, 2011 9:21 pm

    I have your paratrooper jacket which will outlast me ( I am an 80+aficionado) and yearn for your rebirth

    The 7,5 oz cotton must be much heavier than that.

    It is super

    Frederick Hellman

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