Making a Boot that Lasts a Lifetime

High quality - USA - Rugged...

the Black Bear Brand x Wesco x Horween Leather Co. collaboration collection

photo: Tim O'Keefe

photo: Tim O'Keefe

Black Bear Brand and Wesco form a perfect pair. This collaboration celebrates an enduring legacy. Wesco has been producing high-quality, hand-crafted leather boots for 100 years. Their facility is a testament to the company’s original methods. These boots are a tough, yet refined product of a man’s labor. The quality of product is unsurpassed. A hard-working spirit is alive here. The love of manufacturing has endured the test of time, and the craft of making has proven its resilience.

Black Bear Brand is a revival of tough and traditional craftsmanship. We’ve pursued this engagement with Wesco because the men and women who work there personify excellence.
    • Horween USA Leather
    • All of these are Made 100% in the USA
    • HAND MADE to order, not mass produced
    • 100 years of experience into these boots
    • ALL High Quality materials; Full leather, no cloth, no cork, no fake stitching, every method of our crafting serves a purpose
    • No shortcuts taken in the manufacturing process, every skive, every stitch, every nail is done with passion and pride
    • Can have new soles put on them, or be completely be rebuilt depending on how worn they are
    • They get better looking with every wear

photos: Chad Lyons / Tim O'Keefe / Bradley Wentzel... (thank you so much for your contribution in what we're creating)

The Motorcycle Artist... the ever growing Union Of Makers.

Sarah Grace - West Sussex England

a Motorcycle Artist... a perfectionist that's detail obsessive.

...Growing up in the north of England just outside Manchester; it’s a long way from the scenery of West Sussex and the surrounding areas - Think planes, pollution, an industrial based and bustling city with strong accents and even stronger tea. West Sussex to me, where I call home now - is very green, slower paced, cleaner air and a completely different environment to what I grew up in. The cities in the South of England are full of such beautiful places, galleries, architectural beauty and heritage. Brighton, London and Oxford being my favourite cities to spend my spare time, all with a unique vibe, pubs you never want to leave, music, Art and different people you meet along the way that all inspire me in so many different ways. Black Bear Brand certainly brings a feel of heritage, style, quality and a brand that certainly has a strong and established identity in what they’re achieving, making and known for.  Although based far from England in Seattle, USA… Their clothing feels right at home here - Clothing that is instantly recognised for it’s sheer quality, uniqueness and style. Something I’m ultimately trying to achieve with my drawings - Bringing that feel of quality, hard work and understanding to a persons prize possession, their motorcycle. A piece of mechanical Art in itself, which takes you on a journey to new adventures, new roads, new experiences and the bold feeling of freedom. The detailing I try to add in every single commission is 99% of the time recognised immediately by the owner - there’s nothing more pleasing than a client commenting on the little things most people would miss that i’ve added in their drawing - but when you’re looking at a photograph of a clients bike in all its entirety and so closely; for the quirks and individualities each motorcycle has, why would you want to miss any of that out? It’s what I’m hoping will make my work known for and in the long run, respected for as well.  Quality, quirks and detail is something I always look out for in products. Whether that be the feel of a real leather jacket, the detailing on a handcrafted piece of furniture, or the intricate artwork an Artist has taken the time to achieve on a beer bottle label. People who look for these things can find it in many, many places.  It has been a pleasure to be asked to be a part of the Black Bear Brand journey, and I must say, everyone should invest in their iconic tweed jacket. I haven’t worn such a beautifully crafted item of clothing for a long time. ‘

...Growing up in the north of England just outside Manchester; it’s a long way from the scenery of West Sussex and the surrounding areas - Think planes, pollution, an industrial based and bustling city with strong accents and even stronger tea.

West Sussex to me, where I call home now - is very green, slower paced, cleaner air and a completely different environment to what I grew up in.

The cities in the South of England are full of such beautiful places, galleries, architectural beauty and heritage.

Brighton, London and Oxford being my favourite cities to spend my spare time, all with a unique vibe, pubs you never want to leave, music, Art and different people you meet along the way that all inspire me in so many different ways.

Black Bear Brand certainly brings a feel of heritage, style, quality and a brand that certainly has a strong and established identity in what they’re achieving, making and known for. 

Although based far from England in Seattle, USA… Their clothing feels right at home here - Clothing that is instantly recognised for it’s sheer quality, uniqueness and style.

Something I’m ultimately trying to achieve with my drawings - Bringing that feel of quality, hard work and understanding to a persons prize possession, their motorcycle.

A piece of mechanical Art in itself, which takes you on a journey to new adventures, new roads, new experiences and the bold feeling of freedom. The detailing I try to add in every single commission is 99% of the time recognised immediately by the owner - there’s nothing more pleasing than a client commenting on the little things most people would miss that i’ve added in their drawing - but when you’re looking at a photograph of a clients bike in all its entirety and so closely; for the quirks and individualities each motorcycle has, why would you want to miss any of that out? It’s what I’m hoping will make my work known for and in the long run, respected for as well. 

Quality, quirks and detail is something I always look out for in products. Whether that be the feel of a real leather jacket, the detailing on a handcrafted piece of furniture, or the intricate artwork an Artist has taken the time to achieve on a beer bottle label. People who look for these things can find it in many, many places. 

It has been a pleasure to be asked to be a part of the Black Bear Brand journey, and I must say, everyone should invest in their iconic tweed jacket.

I haven’t worn such a beautifully crafted item of clothing for a long time. ‘

Sarah Grace - The Darkest Line (photos by: Lucy Scovell)

Having a relationship with the products we invite into our lives.

stories of the connection, the feeling... (the Black Bear Brand shirt-jacket)

"Maybe only my grandpas pocketknife with its worn down blades and burnished handles or my old mans tools that send me back with every use to a simpler time and evoke in me such an emotional connectedness as does this jacket. It has earned its place amongst those revered items that took several generations to season. Already coveted by my sons like the items from my past it boasts a patina that tells the stories of its life. I've been caught of guard by my affinity for it."- Kelley Runion (Detroit)

"Maybe only my grandpas pocketknife with its worn down blades and burnished handles or my old mans tools that send me back with every use to a simpler time and evoke in me such an emotional connectedness as does this jacket. It has earned its place amongst those revered items that took several generations to season. Already coveted by my sons like the items from my past it boasts a patina that tells the stories of its life. I've been caught of guard by my affinity for it."- Kelley Runion (Detroit)

Black Bear Brand watch-cap tag design.

It started while standing outside the Harley-Davidson museum…

Harley-Davidson Museum

While standing outside the Harley-Davidson museum a guy walked up; said hi and asked about my boots… “what kind of boots are those”? - Craig

I proudly stated we make them and dove into the story of Black Bear Band designing these boot with Wesco and Horween leather.  (The day earlier Chad Lyons emailed me a picture of that exact moment).

I responded to the email and we started chatting; it turns out Craig is a very talented calligrapher, illustrator, and sign painter… and works at the H-D museum.  We got on and had a lot of similar interests… 

A month after we met I was exploring what to do for our watch-cap tag and thought of Craig.  Soon to following we had our tag!

The TAG design: "It is honor to have the opportunity to work with Black Bear Brand as they forge new relationships between quality and excellence. There are still American manufactures that have a solid past and continue taking pride in the quality products they make. The integrity of Dehen's wool knitting techniques are built on nearly 100 years of experience. The tag on the Wool Knit Watch Cap, made exclusively for Black Bear Brand, was designed by hand and was drawn by hand using pencil and paper. The "by hand" element of the tag was important to Josh, as he is one who values the personal connection to what he and Black Bear support. This value is seen in all the products they offer. Working with Josh on this project is rewarding, encouraging, and elevating. I like all three colors, but I have always favored black...for everything. The olive drab is pretty cool too."  - Craig Kalbas

Back Bear Brand's signature shirt-jacket x Harris Tweed.

Back Bear Brand's signature design taken to its extreme. 

Seamlessly styled as either a tailored jacket or a ruggedly refined shirt, this uniquely versatile piece was crafted with a beautiful Harris Tweed wool outer and features two chest pockets, leather reinforced snaps throughout, an interior Harris Tweed pocket at the left chest, a fully-lined body, fully-lined sleeves, double button cuffs, a straight fit.

 

Harris Tweed “From Sheep to Finished Fabric.
Across the waters from Scotland, beyond the Isle of Skye lies the barren, rocky island of Harris.  One hundred and fifty years ago, the people of this island created a unique cloth, a tweed woven entirely by hand that was to become world famous known simply as it still is today as Harris Tweed.

Black Bear Brand wax-canvas “shirt” Jackets

Black Bear Brand's classically styled, incredibly tough wax-canvas signature design 100% constructed in Seattle Wash.

BlackBearBrandHunterGreenWaxCanvas.jpg

We couldn't be more proud to present the 3rd collection of our Black Bear Brand wax-canvas “shirt” Jackets.
Seamlessly styled as either a tailored jacket or a ruggedly refined shirt, this uniquely versatile piece was crafted with a tough wax-canvas fabric and features two chest pockets, leather reinforced snaps throughout, an interior pocket at the left chest, a fully-lined body, fully-lined sleeves, double button cuffs, a straight fit.

A Bringing Together Of Unwavering Traditions

Black Bear Brand, Wesco, and Horween Leather Co. 

Black Bear Brand and Wesco collaboration collaboration

Available for pre-order!  Black Bear Brand and Wesco form a perfect pair. This collaboration celebrates an enduring legacy. Wesco has been producing high-quality, hand-crafted leather boots for 100 years. Their facility is a testament to the company’s original methods. These boots are a tough, yet refined product of a man’s labor. The quality of product is unsurpassed. A hard-working spirit is alive here. The love of manufacturing has endured the test of time, and the craft of making has proven its resilience.

Our American Journey - gallery show

If your in Seattle Nov. 2nd... join us for the galley show of the photography from the Our American Journey adventure.

 Chad Lyons photography from "Our American Journey"... 

6pm on November 2, 2017 at: 

CALLUS

323 1st Ave S

Seattle, WA 98104

.... the 1937 Harley-Davidson from the Our American Journey will be there.

.... for you drinkers, Jameson Whiskey will have a tasting.

Please join us!

A Bringing Together Of Unwavering Traditions.

Black Bear Brand, Wesco, and Horween Leather Co.

Here’s a sneak preview behind the making of 2 styles from the collection.  Photos by: Chad Lyons

Black Bear Brand and Wesco form a perfect pair. This collaboration celebrates an enduring legacy. Wesco has been producing high-quality, hand-crafted leather boots for 100 years. Their facility is a testament to the company’s original methods. These boots are a tough, yet refined product of a man’s labor. The quality of product is unsurpassed. A hard-working spirit is alive here. The love of manufacturing has endured the test of time, and the craft of making has proven its resilience.

The boots will be made to order!  Collection details coming in the next week. 

Pre-order on Nov. 3.

"Our American Journey" - the connections, stories, and so much more.

Resurrecting Black Bear Brand has fueled my interest in history and started a life altering journey. This adventure is a timeless, ageless appeal for freedom... connecting with people, places, and experiences.    

The history of Harley-Davidson and my 69 year old panhead is where my love with H-D began. The dive into the world of these machines, the people, the places... has set me on a journey. Here's a taste of the story that's coming soon.
-------------------------------------
The start
- Explore, dive-in, get exposed, be vulnerable… curiosity. 
- A connection with Harley-Davidson was born.

A Building Connection
- Participate; really dive-in, learn, get out there… don’t pause! 
- Passion is an insatiable thing; it connects people; its infectious. 

Participation
- Exposed, vulnerable, learning, scars, growth… connections.
- Life altering experiences start happening at an amazing pace… at every turn its clearer that this is just the beginning.

Story coming soon.

Arriving at The Race Of Gentlemen; Wildwood NJ... June 2017.

We made it... this wasn't the beginning of the story and certainly not the end!

We arrive in NJ…

We check in and go through the bike inspection… the TROG folks love the bike,  ask us to get the bike on display with the other bikes.

With only kicking the bike over and really running it for the first time the night before we roll it out of the van to an audience of on lookers, we’re on display to…

Cinematographer: Ian Beaudoux

Harley-Davidson graphic art history and our 1937 Flathead tanks…

Art is the foundation of almost everything in my life. The meaning behind our paint scheme was very important to me.  

History - 
We choose the art-deco "eagle” design that was painted on all gas tanks in 1933. This design marked the beginning of graphic designs on Harley-Davidson motorcycles (with the exception of previously special order-only paint schemes). This styling decision was made in part to stimulate the low sales numbers caused by the Great Depression.

Going back to the beginning of graphic designs on Harley-Davidson to celebrate a love and romance with the old world.

I loved the 1933 tank design at first sight and I was stoked when I learned from Jeff Coffman how Harley-Davidson supplied graphics for factory ordered bikes in 1937.  In the 30’s a customer was able to order their Harley-Davidson from the factory with any back dated graphic from the last 5 years….

Every part of re-building the 1937 Harley-Davidson has been an experience of a lifetime.

"We are not a simple translation of the past, we're creating from what in the past has influenced us….” - Josh Sirlin

Special note: This paint scheme and every crackpot idea I have is only that until I marry that idea with an amazing person that can help me bring it to life.  This paint scheme and so much more has been brought to life by Ryan Arnold; Ryan is amazing human, a friend, a savant, and so much more.  Thank you Ryan for being you.

Black Bear Brand is a Union of Makers in dedicated support of one another. We include artists, builders, musicians, riders, and creators of all kinds. The resurrection of Black Bear Brand is possible today because it is a curation of people who personify the genuine nature of what the brand was built on in the early 1900’s. Every project is a collaboration that we are intimately engaged in; working together to elevate quality with a pragmatic design approach and youthful curiosity. With each product and project the story grows.

The seats for our 1937 Flathead

When it came to the seat for the 1937 Flathead project I had something special in mind; I wanted to tie in Horween and a craftswoman I'd been wanting to work with.  
I found two seat pans to cover; an original Bates pan for the race and an original Harley Davidson solo seat just for fun.  I reached out to Horween to get some special leather and they scored us some old stock calfskin they still had from 1940.
I connected with "Ginger McCabe from New Church Moto in Oregon who’s artful touch combined with priceless 70 year old leather made the prefect seat for our bike.  It's just too cool.  

Fun twist; doing two seat couldn’t have been ended up better for the new part of the journey!   After TROG I’ll be riding the bike across the county on the Harley Davidson solo seat!

Our Union Of Makers approach… where materials, people and their stories drive the end product

Designing with Williamson Dickies to produce the 1st Black Bear Brand pants, shirts, jackets “work” collection.

The foundation for our journey to resurrect and develop the new Black Bear Brand is our approach to manufacturing as a Union of Makers: designing, curating, uniting with the best, and making things together. 

We're excited to introduce our 1st Black Bear Brand pants, shirts, jackets “work” collection.

We designed an exclusively Made In The USA collection with Williamson Dickies and their 1922 department. Through this curation comes an elevation of design and quality that is built from the unification of our two styles, passions, resources, love and romance of the old world of making things. 

Behind the design… an exclusive tailored pant with the style based from the 1920’s work pant; exclusive tailored designed shirts; work wear material; metal buttons; Made in TX.

Black Bear Brand x Dickies 1922 Collaboration (Lincoln Green) - (Stone Grey) - (Navy)

Pant... tailored cut design combined with the traditional 65/35 Poly-Cotton tough material.

    Black Bear Brand Inner Tag & Waist Band
    Black Welt On Back Pockets with Dickies Guaranteed Tag
    Black Inner Pockets
    Metal Dickies Front Botton
    Made in TX

Long Sleeve Shirt.... tailored cut design combined with traditional 65/35 Poly-Cotton tough material.  

    Black Side Gussets
    Black Inner Button Placket with Dickies Guaranteed Tag
    Black Neck Band
    Two Button Chest Pockets
    Made in Texas

Short Sleeve Shirt... tailored cut design combined with traditional 65/35 Poly-Cotton tough material. 

    Black Side Gussets
    Black Inner Button Placket with Dickies Guaranteed Tag
    Black Neck Band
    Single Button Chest Pocket
    Made in Texas

Chore Jacket... traditional chore/shop jacket design; 65/35 Poly-Cotton tough material.  
    Black Neck Band
    Metal Dickies Bottons
    Made in TX

REBUILDING AN AMERICAN CLASSIC

Gumption – The Mind’s Gasoline

Building a bike for TROG was real when the title of the 1937 Flathead was in my hand and I legally owned a bunch of parts that could be a bike.  It was in that moment that this build became more than just a crazy idea. I had never done anything like this, but whether I was ready or not, I was about to build a bike from the bones I had acquired. This bike had to be built from the ground up, and I didn’t even have all the pieces I needed.

It was time to review all that had to happen. Within the next 65 days, I had to build a 1937 Flathead with all original parts. That meant acquiring the remaining parts from Jeff Coffman, rebuilding the engine, rebuilding the transmission, applying to The Race Of Gentlemen, and concluding the project by riding the bike across the country from Pennsylvania to Seattle.  It was a lot to fit into our short time-frame, but my dreams and reality, as usual, were tossed into a blender to produce my own delusional reality.

Seattle to Pennsylvania

I helped Ryan disassemble the bike while I was in PA and we made a list of everything that was needed. A gas tank, oil tank, tins, seat, and a slew of engine and transmission parts. The goal was to use purely 1937 Harley Davidson parts for everything we possibly could. In order to get approved for the Race of Gentlemen, this bike had to be authentic.

Back to Washington & Oregon

I shot the list of what we needed to Jeff Coffman before I flew back to Seattle.  After being home for a few days I ripped down to Oregon to see what I could wheel and deal for the rare parts we needed.

The day with Jeff at his shop was like going back to school.  After about 8 hours of the “history and shop class,” I had a lot of the parts we needed: a 1937 gas tank, 1937 oil tank, 1937 front and rear tins, and a handlebar that was broken into pieces. Each piece had a life of wear to them, and each piece was completely authentic.  I drove away from Jeff’s with a gold mine of 1937 Harley Davidson parts. The next day, everything was shipped off to PA.

I had something special in mind for the seat and p-pad. I found two seat pans to cover; an original Bates pan for the race, and an original Harley Davidson solo seat just for fun.  I reached out to Horween to get some special leather and they scored us some old stock calfskin they still had from 1940. After that, I connected with “Ginger McCabe from New Church Moto in Oregon. Her artful touch, combined with priceless 70 year old leather, made for the perfect bike seat. I put the seats in my bag, and was off to Pennsylvania for the second time.

Back to Pennsylvania

Now that we had everything, it was time to start designing and building. For the frame, forks, and tank, we made some small structural repairs, and simply cleared each part to preserve the metals natural character. We wanted to celebrate the fact that these pieces were authentic. The only parts we chopped and customized were our 1937 fenders. We popped off the supports, cut 2 inches out of the center, and trimmed the sides at the bead roll. The age of each metal part, and even the bronze braising on the frame, was preserved in its natural state after 80 years.

From there we moved on to the important stuff; our engine and transmission.  Ryan has plenty of experience rebuilding hot rod engines, but this would be his first Harley engine and transmission. Relying on him to do this seemed crazy at first glance, but his natural talent and understanding of engines made for a successful build. Having Ryan re-build the bike gave me the opportunity to help out where I could, document the process, and make it a more personal engagement. We rebuilt the engine as well as the transmission, working day and night to meet our deadline. In the end we managed to meet the requirements given by the Race of Gentlemen. Our application was in and I couldn’t be more excited with how the bike was coming along.

Looking back at every part of this, I laugh at my initial willingness to dive right into this project. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but nevertheless, we had accomplished our goal.  What Ryan did for the brand, as well as this story, is on another level.  I found and sourced the parts that were necessary, but it was his expertise that made it all possible. He championed a complete engine rebuild, and although most of it was over my head, together we made it happen. The process was documented, and I was able to help in the final assembly of the bike. Personally placing the newly built engine into the frame, I knew we had made something truly amazing.  This build ended up being one hell of an experience for all of us.

 

Blind Determination

Building a bike for the Race of Gentlemen... 

I left Jeff’s place determined to build a bike for The Race Of Gentlemen (TROG).  Finding a way to build this bike was now like a bug that I couldn’t shake.

As I was learning more and more about classic Harley Davidsons, it became more crystal clear that I really didn’t know shit. The realization was blaring how fortunate I was to be on this journey with the help of my friends.

My goal was to start out with a foundation. I needed to find an engine or frame to build everything else from.  If I was going to go after this, it would have to be done right, and with the goal of getting the bike into the Race of Gentlemen.  Step one was getting my head around the bike requirements put forth by TROG.

I was looking for engines, frames, and asking everyone I knew for help.  I’m super fortunate to have a variety of friends across the country that all have similar interests and that know a lot more than I do about bikes.  I quickly became aware that what I was looking for wasn’t easy to find and was probably going to be expensive… the story of my life.  I’ve never been drawn to the common, easy, or cheap.  It’s ironic that what I’m drawn to and interested in line up with the brand we’re developing and integrates seamlessly as just another story of our journey.

From California, Kamloops BC, Seattle, to Chicago, and Pennsylvania, the search was full on… I lost one bike I had a line on and was getting bent… but then, as usual, we found what we were searching for.

In the weeks prior, I was introduced to Ryan Arnold, a talented painter and all around craftsman from PA.

He’s a killer painter and much more. He’s an engine builder, fabricator, machinist, inventor,and a watch maker. In short, he’s a true savant.

Ryan and I got on right away; we instantly wanted to do something and with him being a metal flake painter, we started planning paint schemes for a few tanks and helmets.  A plan was set for me to fly out to PA two weeks later.

Ryan was now part of the team helping search for the parts necessary for the TROG build! 

During one of our calls I started talking about a 1936 Flathead I lost and a light bulb must have lit for Ryan. He actually had a 1937 Flathead “pre-restoration” in his shop; he said it didn’t cross his mind to mention it before because I had asked him about help finding a knucklehead engine. 

The questions and requests for pictures` of each part had begun. We went over every part I could think of, and I was sending every picture to Jeff Coffman and Thom Jones, two people I trust to confirm whether or not this stuff was legit.  Between Jeff and Thom it was determined that the foundational pieces are the real deal; it was settled; we had the bones of our bike… I jumped.

This was now the beginning of us really going after making a bike for TROG, the Black Bear Brand bike to be done our way by the Union of Makers.

We now had a bike, it was in PA, and I was headed there…

 

“determination; doers do; make it happen if you want it… just start running; jump off the cliff and build your wings as your falling“

“determination; doers do; make it happen if you want it… just start running; jump off the cliff and build your wings as your falling“