Let me be clear, the Filofax was an 80s phenomenon. Its status as a 1980s icon might be moot, but I’m convinced of its claims.
Of course, as with many things identified with the 80s, the lifespan of the Filofax is greater than the ten years between 1980 and 1989. In its original form,the Filofax was invented in 1910 and went through the odd reincarnation before Ian Logan’s 1980 revamp into the thing that we grew to know and love.
As with the brick-like mobile phone it quickly became a desirable accessory for the aspiring Yuppie. Its image and hence sales were given no hindrance by being available in Paul Smith’s London store in the 80s.
The original idea concept was developed in 1910 by JC Parker of Philadelphia and was known as the Lefax organiser, designed to hold engineering data. By 1921, the London printer and stationery marketer, Norman and Hill, began importing the Lefax. Five years later the company were manufacturing the product using the brand name Filofax (File of Facts), a name first was coined by secretary Grace Scurr.
In the years following 1926, the main purchaser of the Filofax was the British Army. The progression through the clergy and academia, via journalists, judges and doctors to the aspiring (and already successful) business man and woman of the 80s was a sixty year journey of epic twists and turns.
Logan’s reborn Filofax was designed for business. Featuring diary and year planner, there were forms for business expenses, financial data and world time zones. It was now a stylish binder in luxurious leather. Its myriad models featured zips, pockets and pouches for credit cards and other important personal items.
Before the term Yuppie became de rigueur The Times had already coined a new phrase to describe young City hotshots. YAPs (Young Aspiring Professionals) were in their late twenties / early thirties with a good education and connections in the City. They carried a Filofax for networking and also a tool of social recognition. By 1985, owning a Filofax, said ‘Look at me, I’m aspiring, I’m up and coming.’
Of course, for all the YAPs and Yuppies, it was one Derek Edward Trotter, a fictional construct from the pen of John Sullivan who probably did more to popularise the Filofax than anybody else.