Alex Tilley: An Endurable Legacy
An in-depth authorized biography of an iconic Canadian entrepreneur, Alex Tilley, who invented the Tilley hat some forty years ago.
Alex Tilley is a Canadian business icon whose self-proclaimed “persnicketiness” for quality earned him a loyal following in the highly competitive world of outdoor and travel clothing. He founded Tilley Endurables and became internationally famous for the crown of his creations: a Canadian-made cotton hat sold with a lifetime guarantee. Alex Tilley: An Endurable Legacy is the story of one man’s headstrong pursuit of excellence.
It wasn’t always easy. Alex struggled in school, hindered by a brain injury and learning disability. He was fired from several jobs and had no particular passion to drive him forward. His first business venture went bankrupt. Yet he persisted and, in his thirties, finally enjoyed moderate success in the art rental business. He invented his Tilley hat as a hobby in his forties, never thinking that it would turn him into a successful entrepreneur and manufacturer.
By the late 1980s, Tilley hats became world famous in the fiercely competitive outdoor fashion industry and graced the heads of Prince Phillip, Sir Edmund Hillary and even of Canadian soldiers during the Gulf War. One advertisement even told the tale of how a Tilley hat had survived being digested by an elephant three times only to be worn again. By the time Alex retired and sold the company in 2015, Tilley hats were sold by more than 3,800 associated retailers in 18 countries including 2,300 retailers in the United States.
Nancy Beal has worked in journalism and corporate communications for more than twenty-five years and is fascinated with the telling of a good story – fiction or non-fiction. Entrepreneurs offer some of the best stories, by following their dreams and creating unique products, risking everything to bring those items to the marketplace. In this work, Alex Tilley: An Endurable Legacy, she has found her perfect subject. Nancy Beal lives in Muskoka, Ontario