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The Classic Brand That Beat San Francisco’s Weather

April 2017Words by Mr Paul L Underwood

“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” It’s a funny line, even if its supposed author, Mr Mark Twain, never actually said it, or wrote it, or felt it. (His actual writing on the City by the Bay praised its natural beauty – and chastised locals for complaining about the wind.)

Still, there’s a reason the saying gets play nearly two centuries after it was (or wasn’t) said. San Francisco weather is famously brisk, and the aforementioned wind is damn cold. And no one suffered the chilly City climate with grace quite like the men who, in the early 20th century, made their living on the docks – the longshoremen who shouldered the burdens of the robust shipping industry that developed there after the California gold rush.

It was those dockhands who, in 1922, became Golden Bear Sportswear’s first customers. From its Howard Street workshop, the brand produced elegantly sturdy coats built to withstand strong winds in the port. Two decades later, Golden Bear introduced what remains its best-known item: the bomber jacket, inspired by WWII-era fighter pilots.