Racquet Luv

This week marks the beginning of the US Open. The bright lights of the Big Apple welcome the top men’s and women’s players from around the world to compete for the Grand Slam title. I personally grew up in Naples, Florida, where tennis is a way of life… It wasn’t just a sport, but a social affair, almost part of one’s day… It was seen as a way to meet new people and better oneself. To me, the US Open was my country’s opportunity to show the rest of the world, that the US was the top country for tennis, and any other sport for that matter. Watching Andy Roddick hoist that silver trophy over his head was one of my favorite teenage memories… Roddick was the face of American tennis, and an idol to a young man like myself… As I tune over to ESPN to check out the evenings matches, my heart is broken, when there are no Americans in contention to win, what in my eyes is the best title in tennis. What happened to the days of McEnroe and Connors, or Agassi and Sampras? Americans competing on the brightly lit asphalt courts in Queens to a rowdy and boisterous crowd. What has happened to American tennis?

This year, we might not have an American taking center stage to compete for the Open, but Bird Dog Bay does have a tennis tie born and bred in Chicago, IL… Steve designed this gem of a tennis tie with racquets and a fuzzy lime ball in a classic BDB pattern. Nothing would make this tennis fan happier than tying this classic tennis tie on, and heading in Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City on a late Summer night… Maybe US tennis can take a page from this bow tie’s book and start making some winners!



Origins of the Necktie

Some men wear neckties everyday… Silk, woven linen, wool, even denim and leather ties can be found… Yet, very few people actually know where neckties originated… Gus and I did a little research this morning and this is what we found out. Apparently in 1635, a whole bunch of Croatian mercenaries went to Paris to support King Louis XIII and do a little partying, and the of course oh so fashionable Parisians were rather taken by the Croations and their trendy colored scarves that they wore around their necks. I guess, Croation men would take silk scarves and tie them toughly around their neck under their shirt and let the extra silk hand down… They all started wearing neck scarves ‘a la croate’, which led to the birth of the cravat, which is know called a necktie. They began a staple among French nobility and the spread across the country and across the English Channel. Croatians literally brought their style of silk tightly tied around their neck to Paris, and it spread contagiously from there…
Now there are of course other theories… Romans and Greeks both wore silk around their necks in various manners, but the “tied knot” and hanging down structured tie is usually agreed upon originating in Croatia.

From Paris, the trend spread to London, where in the eighteenth century the practice was to put a neckerchief or cravat inside your collar to keep out draughts, and to keep the collar clean. In the nineteenth centurty this practice continued until one bright Oxford Rowing Blue removed the decorative hatband from his straw hat and tied it around his neck, specifically the outside of his rowing collar oxford shirt, or so the story is told…

From Oxford, the trend spread to London and then across the British Empire to the rest of this great earth…

Furthermore, one of the oldest examples of a necktie can be found on the life-size terracotta soldiers buried with Chinese emperor Shih Huang Ti in 210 B.C.!!!! That is pretty darn old. Each solider that was buried is depicted wearing a carefully wrapped silk cloth firmly around its neck… Not in a standard four hand know however…

Other scarce and early example of neckties are depicted on a marble columns erected by Roman emperor Trajan in 113 A.D! These columns (in Rome of course) show “legionnaires” wearing three versions of silk neckwear… These instances are unique, and there is no evidence that either Chinese or Roman men commonly wore neckties…

The debate continues on the true origins, however I personally will give a sturdy “nod” to the Croatian mercenaries who made that trip to the city of lights…. but we can assure you that Bird Dog Bay necktie are born and bred in Chicago, Illinois, and would like to thank those mercenaries for deciding to tie some silk around their necks in that whimsical manner.



“Shark Week”

Steve stops from his busy schedule to talk to us about the idea behind “Shark Week”, a shark/nautical themed tie that also would make a great gift for the aggressive attorney or businessman…

“One of my favorite FAQs: are you ever concerned you’re going to run out of ideas for your silk designs? The answer is usually an impish grin and the following explanation: if you were to ever visit my studio and flip through the design file you’d understand why running out of ideas is the least of my problems. Dealing with customs, maybe, but thinking of the twenty-seventh way to draw a clever golf tie…not so much. As of today there are 1000’s of random sketches on pub napkins, old polaroids, kitschy toys from Stuckey’s, Victorian Christmas ornaments, vintage hunting licenses, and many, many ripped out photos from stacks of different home decor and sporting magazines. It started as a simple accordion folder when I was a teenager, twenty plus years later it’s now several file cabinets of random thoughts, though trust me, they’re not all winners. I’d say collecting inspiration for silk designs is truly my only real hobby and I work on it every single day.

Last year I came across a sketch I drew on the back of snorkeling brochure I must have tossed in the file a million years ago. My drawing had a bunch of different shark breeds swimming in circles and in block letters in a Sharpie I wrote, “Tiger, Nurse and Hammerstein”. Clever? I don’t know, though at the time I thought it would make a good “lawyer” tie. Not sure I was going down the right path, so when I put pen to paper I drew in a little “Scuba Steve” and played it safe. Well, maybe not so safe in these silky waters…


Here is our “shark week necktie” in turquoise, and “shark attack socks” in cool blue!



Dog Days of Summer

It’s that time of year… Summer is in full swing. Long hot days are followed by pleasant summer nights… People are on vacations, getting ready to go back to school, and getting excited for what Fall has to offer. If you are in Chicago, however, you are getting anxious… The end of summer is like your internet going down in a hurricane, or your friend leaving to “try out a new city”… Eventually it will come back, but boy it could be a long time… When your summer is three months and winter lasts nine, you know what I mean.

Here at Bird Dog Bay, we are getting excited for the remainder of the summer with two more trade shows, one in Dallas, TX and another in New York City… We attend these shows and display our Fall Collection of ties, bow ties, dress shirts, and other mens accessories to potential buyers and clients. Following the trade shows, we get ready for the Fall season and all that entails.

The weekends during this time of year seem to be longer and full of potential. It just feels right to throw on a “Gus Cap” or “Gus T-shirt” from Bird Dog Bay and go try something new. Whether it be sailing, tennis, or golf… There is just time to get out and do. So, with that being said, get off the computer and go out and do!!!