Sirlin speaks on reviving the heritage brand, while keeping a product of purpose.

A BEAR FOR WEAR: Resurgence of slow fashion and putting hands to work, and resting on nearly 100 years of heritage, Black Manufacturing is uniting its “union of makers” with its newest leather-jacket collaboration, colluding in the Pacific Northwest where the “outdoors and industrial collide.”

Fixed on quality and made-to-order utility, Black Bear Brand’s product selection includes leather jackets, heavyweight shirts of wool and tweed weave, knit accessories and collaborations such as that of the latest Black Bear Brand x Langlitz Leathers featuring Horween Leather Co. horsehide, tanned specially for the collaboration.

Since 1914, when George G. Black built the namesake manufacturing center to foster the growth of the label, the emphasis has been on providing product with purpose. And this “union of makers” is tethered to the Black family’s founding mission to dissolve competing sweatshop conditions and place emphasis on worker welfare and emotional resonance.

WWD spoke with Josh Sirlin, creative director, curator and principal at Black Manufacturing, the overseer of Black Bear Brand and its “union of makers,” which is essentially “sharing what’s behind the product” and “participating in the creating,” as Sirlin stated.

Softening production timelines, each leather jacket begins with a “personal consultation with each customer during the ordering process” to perfect sizing and fit. After size and hardware assessment, assembly is around 100 days, being made at Langlitz Leathers in Portland, Ore. Even the hardware has a story to tell, with the handmade silver snaps being “made by a friend in Japan, Manabu of Studio Wokini.”

Today’s modern iteration of the Black Bear Brand speaks of a “pragmatic, refined, tough, romantic” aesthetic, aiming to be the “successor to this history,” acknowledging the founder’s essence and American values of upholding product functionality and utility to be the “standard of the West.” 

Check out Black Bear Brand’s “Our American Journey” video series to see their beginnings.

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