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where did columbia sportswear originate

by:Tengfei     2023-08-10

Columbia Sportswear: A Journey from Humble Beginnings to Global Success

Columbia Sportswear is a global brand that specializes in outdoor clothing, footwear, and accessories. Founded in 1938, the brand has come a long way from its origins as a small hat distributor. Today, it is one of the most recognized and respected names in the outdoor industry. In this article, we take a closer look at the history of Columbia Sportswear, from its early days to its present-day success.

The Early Years: A Small Hat Distributor

Columbia Sportswear was founded in 1938 by Paul Lamfrom, a German immigrant who had settled in Portland, Oregon. Lamfrom started out as a hat distributor, selling fishing hats, hunting caps, and other outdoor headwear. He named his company Columbia Hat Company, after the Columbia River, which flows through Portland.

In the early 1940s, Lamfrom saw an opportunity to expand his business by manufacturing his own hats. He started making hats out of durable, water-resistant fabrics, such as oilcloth and canvas, which were popular among outdoorsmen. This move proved to be a game-changer for the company, as it allowed Lamfrom to offer products that were both functional and stylish.

The Birth of Columbia Sportswear

By the late 1950s, Columbia Hat Company had become a respected brand in the outdoor industry, known for its high-quality hats and other headwear. However, Lamfrom was not satisfied with just selling hats. He wanted to expand his product line and become a one-stop-shop for outdoor enthusiasts.

In 1960, Lamfrom renamed his company Columbia Sportswear Company and began manufacturing outdoor apparel, including jackets, pants, and shirts. The company quickly gained a reputation for producing rugged, high-performance clothing that could stand up to the toughest outdoor conditions.

The Growth Years: Expansion and Innovation

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Columbia Sportswear continued to grow and expand its product line. The company introduced new fabrics and technologies, such as Gore-Tex and Omni-Shield, that made its products even more durable and weather-resistant. It also expanded beyond the North American market, establishing a presence in Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world.

In the 1990s, Columbia Sportswear made headlines for its innovative marketing campaigns, which featured the tagline 'Tough Mother.' The campaign celebrated the durability and toughness of Columbia's products, and helped to establish the brand as a leader in the outdoor industry.

A Global Brand: Columbia Sportswear Today

Today, Columbia Sportswear is a global brand that is known for its innovative products, cutting-edge technologies, and commitment to sustainability. The company offers a wide range of outdoor clothing, footwear, and accessories for men, women, and children, and is sold in over 90 countries worldwide.

Despite its global reach, Columbia Sportswear remains true to its roots. The company is still headquartered in Portland, Oregon, and is led by members of the Lamfrom family. It continues to innovate and push the boundaries of what is possible in outdoor apparel, while maintaining a deep respect for the natural environment.


Columbia Sportswear has come a long way from its origins as a small hat distributor. Today, it is a global brand that is synonymous with outdoor adventure and innovation. From its early days making fishing hats to its present-day success, Columbia Sportswear has remained true to its mission of providing high-quality, functional, and stylish outdoor apparel. With a commitment to sustainability and a pioneering spirit, it is sure to remain a leader in the outdoor industry for many years to come.

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