Christopher Kilgour has been well-acquainted with Duluth Trading Company for more than 20 years. Working in the safety and service industry, and as a stagehand, he served on the company’s Trade Council, testing gear and offering feedback.
“One thing that I really have always really admired about Duluth is that they actually test the gear that they use,” Kilgour said. “They’re very focused on tradespeople and they really don’t sell stuff that’s not legitimately usable.”
He’s been in and out of touch with the company since, but is now one of the faces of its Alaska Hard Gear line of outdoors apparel and gear.
That’s because Kilgour is now founder of Color in the Outdoors (CITO), an organization seeking to offer people of color opportunities to hike, paddle, camp, hunt, fish and just generally enjoy the outdoors.
Duluth Trading Company, headquartered just west of Madison in Mount Horeb, outfitted Kilgour and two colleagues – Bobbi Skendandore and Tony Dugas – in AHG gear and sent a photographer and writer along on an excursion. The faces of CITO are featured on Duluth Trading Company’s website, social media and print catalog.
“They were really supportive during the shoot and definitely, I think, interested in what we were doing in the long term and wanted to showcase the work we were doing,” Kilgour said. “I’ve always known that they’ve stood behind their brand, but also stood behind those that were using their brand.”
Kilgour said he’s been approached by other brands for similar campaigns, but has always passed.
“Oftentimes that collaboration is just trying to put a brown face on their products,” he said. Duluth, however, “practice what they preach.”
“We didn’t do it for for the swag, we didn’t do it for free gear and we didn’t do it to try to boost our image based on some sort of merchandising or brand name,” Kilgour said. “We’re doing this because we believe in that brand.”