Out of a small factory on Howard Street, Golden Bear Sportswear began in 1922, crafting dockworker coats for the longshoremen who hauled cargo up and out of San Francisco Bay, their sturdy leather collars upturned against the fog and the cold. By the 1940s, we’d added bomber jackets to our line, as customers sought the rugged style of the pilots who roared high above Europe in the cockpits of the Flying Tigers, Hellcats, and Flying Fortresses. Twenty-five years down the line, you could find our fringed jackets on the backs of young adults on Haight Street and sported by icons of the counterculture—the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.
By the 1960s, Golden Bear had moved to Valencia Street, with a stop at 1st Street on the way, producing our timeless classic coats and some new styles, too. We took in worn jackets for repairs and dressed anyone interested in that timeless look of San Francisco. Varsity and motorcycle jackets joined the classic bombers and dockworker coats on the racks in our showroom, which you’d find next to the factory floor, up three flights of stairs from the street below.
Golden Bear jackets have become part of personal histories. Customers tell us stories all the time about the jackets they’ve treasured for ten or twenty years, even longer. The jackets get better with age. Each crease tells a story, every rough patch a memory. The people who wear them put in so much mileage that parting with one of our coats seems like losing a friend.
We’ve made one more move over the hill to 200 Potrero, where we cut and sew jackets in a factory built against the only remaining wall of the San Francisco Missions baseball stadium. We’re proud to offer our legacy of durable, quality outerwear—coats that will last as long as we have.