Author Archives: Eric Stefenson
Steve has never chosen to move forward with a Halloween necktie design. Maybe it has something to do with the nature of the holiday or the market, or maybe he’s just scared. I took on the challenge though of finding a necktie deign that could be classified as spooky or Halloween-esque and discovered Jolly Roger in red from this Fall’s collection offers the right amount of haunt to be classified as a Halloween tie design. Originally the Jolly Roger necktie was printed in bright pink, mint, and violet for our Spring 2014 Collection. The tie had a very nautical and preppy feel to it and conjured up the image of pirates, cocktail parties, and the social elite. The Jolly Roger tie design was in fact so popular that we had to bring it back for this fall. Steve chose a nice light blue and red as the color choices for the design. Jolly Roger in red, seems to give me a darker and spookier feeling than its predecessors. (See below)
Maybe its because red is the color of blood, or possibly the red/ and black color story that is working… whatever it is, I personally find it to be our scariest silk illustration. Skull and crossbones on red seems to stoke a sense of fear. Tie it on for the office this Halloween or wear it as part of your costume. I’m sure one can think of a great costume… If it were me, I would tie on this red Jolly Roger tie and be a Bird Dog Bay fan. Whatever you do this October 31st, have a Happy Halloween! Uahahahahaha
With the introduction of “Clay Day” into our Fall 2014 collection, I wondered, where did clay shooting originate? How did it become such an important aspect of shooting and marksmanship… How would the founders feel if they knew they’re “Clay Pigeons” were illustrated on silk neckties here at Bird Dog Bay. Clay shooting or Skeet shooting has become an American pastime and is practiced around the world… Yet how did it begin. Clay shooting began with British marksmen trying to impersonate birds to work on their shot. The Brits have been doing this since the origins of the shotgun, which his the firearm usually preferred for clay shooting. Sporting clays were created to simulate the unpredictability of live-quarry shooting (birds in flight), offering a great variety of trajectories, angles, speeds, elevations, distances, and targets. The terminology of clay pigeons commonly used by clay shooters often relates to times past, when live-pigeon competitions were held. Many of these competitions were made illegal in England in 1921, but a target may still be called a “bird”, and hit may be referred to as a “kill”, and a missed target as a “bird away”; the machine which projects the targets is still known as a “trap”. The clays are orange for safety and visibility. As seen in our “Clay Day” tie.
From here shooting clays was dived into three different sports with Skeet shooting becoming the most popular for mere in the US. Here is how they are deciphered.
In trap shooting, the targets are launched from a single “house” or machine, generally away from the shooter.
In skeet shooting, targets are launched from two “houses” in somewhat “sideways” paths that intersect in front of the shooter.
Sporting clays includes a more complex course, with many launch points. Skeet shooting as we know it in America was invented by some guy named Charles Davis, hailing from Andover, Massachusetts. Davis was an avid grouse hunter, and was involved in what bird hunting in the 1920’s was called, “Clock Shooting”.
Davis created a course, which was a circle with a radius of 25 yards and its circumference marked off like the face of a clock and a trap set at the 12 o’clock position. The game evolved to its current setup by 1923 when one of Davis’ friends, William Harnden Foster, placed a second trap at the 6 o’clock position and cut the course in half. Foster quickly noticed the appeal of this kind of competition shooting, and set out to make it a national sport.
Foster took it under his hand to make the game a sport. The game was introduced in the February 1926 issue of National Sportsman and Hunting and Fishing magazines, and a prize of 100 dollars was offered to anyone who could come up with a name for the new sport. The winning entry was “skeet”. The word “skeet” was said to be derived from the Norwegian word for “shoot” …
During the second World War, skeet shooting was used in the US Army to teach gunners the principle of leading and timing on a flying target. The first National Skeet Championship was held in 1926. From here it become a national pastime for hunters and marksmen alike.
Now, those bright orange clay adorn our silk ties… Ain’t that something.
Bird Dog Bay has introduced its inaugural line of men’s button dress shirts this fall. We could not be more excited to begin selling our shirts to our friends. The shirts are made of 100% Egyptian cotton and Italian milled. Steve was so particular when he was designing the shirts, and he designed them to match our Bird Dog Bay ties. The shirts have a modern English cut that simply fits… It not going to be a baggy box, or fit like an Italian wetsuit… The response so far has been great and we are pleased with the quality and craftsmanship of the shirts.
We released seven shirts this Fall. All seven have button down collars and two of the seven brush cotton, which is a heavier weight for those cool Fall days… or really any day here in Chicago. We are selling them online here at birddog bay.com as well as our new storefront in downtown Chicago. Trust us, you will love the fit, feel, and overall look of Bird Dog Bay dress shirts. They are man’s best friend.
Bird Dog Bay has opened is first storefront at Ogilvie Station in the heart of downtown Chicago, Illinois. located in the loop and the city’s financial district, we could not be happier with our location and store. We are very excited to begin this adventure and can’t wait to see what the future holds. The space is done is classic Bird Dog Bay style and aesthetic. Large moss topiary hunting dogs wearing Bird Dog Bay ties greet the public at the entrance. The large glass entryway entails two large French glass doors that lead shopper into the space complete with dark floors, wood paneled walls, and Persian rugs. Large and rugged Chicago butcher block tables hold a rainbow of bird dog bay’s ties, socks, dress shirts, and gear. The space is intriguing, simple, and full of color. Come on in and check it out for yourself! we’re open!
A tie from our collection that has shown great poise and endurance no matter the season, region, or color has been “Bicycle Race.” Maybe this is because there are not many bicycle ties out there, or the fact that cycling is quite a popular pastime, or even because it is a great tie! I personally cannot get enough of Steve’s design for Bicycle Race. Both the blue and coral color options offer a unique tie in an interesting and compelling pattern… The Coors Classic was an international bicycle race that took place in the Rocky Mountains through the 1970’s and 1980’s. Steve’s family watched those races in downtown Vail Village every summer of his childhood. This design was inspired by a 1981 postcard with that year’s street banner art that he kept in his personal design file for over 30 years. How neat is that! If you look at the tie long enough, it actually looks like the riders are moving! It also come in a bow tie, thats right, a cycling bow! I am currently training for a century ride, which is a tour of over 100 miles on bike. Me and some buddies are going to ride from Chicago to Milwaukee in a couple of weekends. It would be swell to throw on my Bird Dog Bay bicycle tie when I get there! Cycling has always been a sports held in the highest esteem for me. I attended Indiana University for my graduate studies, where the Little 500 race is quite the spectacle to behold! I also grew up in the time where Livestrong bands meant more to me than a fashion statement and where about Lance and his powerful battle with cancer… Looking back I still think Lance was an incredible athlete, yet the shadow of lies and doping will always overshadow the millions of dollars and awareness for cancer research… What is done is done though. Maybe Bicycle Race will “take off” and become a reminder to the American people of how great the sport of cycling is. Just some quick thoughts on cycling and ties. Got to go hop on the saddle and keep training.
Our industry like most, is constantly changing, growing, and adapting… People are looking for new ways to shop, buy, and receive items… Folks love giving Bird Dog Bay ties and accessories as gift. The packaging, quality, and nature of our products make them phenomenal items to both give and receive. One new product feature we have introduced this fall is our “12 Gauge Gift Sets”. We have grouped together some of our favorite boxer shorts and socks into fabulous contrasting and collaborative gift sets to make shopping easier for y’all!
Some of our boxer gift sets include quail hunt and blue ginghams, which pairs one of our traditional 100% cotton gingham boxer shorts with one of our whimsical hunting themed boxers. Grouped together, they seem to enhance each other! The packaging is a green and gold ‘Shotgun Shell’ canister perfect for any hunting enthusiast or underwear aficionado. Take a look at all of our boxer gift sets here… SHOP
This fall we also introduced another way to purchase our socks, by introducing our sock gift sets… By pairing all of our dog socks, seen in “The Hot Dogs” or a grouping three saltwater fish together as in “The Saltwaters” you create fun and genuinely interesting gift sets… Each sock gift set comes with three pairs of our pima cotton dress socks.
People can’t seem to get enough of both our boxer shorts, and socks, so we are excited to give our friends even more options!
This fall we have introduced yet another plaid group into our neckwear collect. With “Scotland Yard”, and “Neapolitan Plaid” being such crowd pleasers, Steve thought it wise to add yet another traditional woven plaid tie into our collection. Plaid has become a staple of American fashion. From plaid shirts, to plaid neckties and plaid bow ties, plaid has become a consistent and classic part of Bird Dog Bay’s collection.
Plaid is an american translation of the Scottish word describing a blanket in a tartan pattern. Tartan is basically plaid, just in the US of A, we always have our own way of describing things. In Scotland, every tribe would have a distinct tartan pattern that would signify their alliance and family. They would wear their tartan pattern into battle and when traveling to signify who they were. Tartan is made in a unique manner that can trace its origins to the 16th century. It sounds fairly technical, yet is actually quite simple. Each thread in the warp crosses each thread in the weft at right angles. Where a thread in the warp crosses a thread of the same colour in the weft they produce a solid color on the tartan. This is how our ties are made as well… Why mess with an age old tradition!
While crossing over each other the threads produce an equal mixture of the two colors. From here the two base colors produce three different colours including one mixture. This is illustrated below in “Pastry Plaid” Plaid has become a staple in our line, and for good reason. The construction is sound, colorful, and bold. It pairs well with any oxford, dress shirt, and even stripe shirt. Safe to say, a wee bit of plaid is never a bad idea.
The boys are lacing up their cleats, putting their helmets on, and preparing for the next week’s opponent. Meanwhile, we are laying out which football themed bow tie and shirt we want to rock at the tailgate, deciding which brisket to buy to cookout in the tailgate fields, and which beer we want to wash it down with… Football season is here! Here at Bird Dog Bay, we live for fall. The season seems to conjoin and parallel our products and what we love. From hunting ties, dog ties, beer ties, and football ties… We have several of each… They are all so autumnal. We are especially excited for the beginning of this fall and our 2014 Open Season Collection. We have a lot going on at Bird Dog Bay! The new collection Steve illustrated and designed has a strong assortment of hunting ties, with Clay Day and Morning Hunt as two new designs that in order to become instant classics! Guy Tie seems to be the perfect tie for very man. Complete with footballs, helmets, cigars, and a steak… it makes for an incredible tailgate statement piece. My personal favorite is our newest football tie design 1st and Ten… It is an original that Steve brought back in blue, Texas gold, and red… It pairs nicely with an oxford shirt and gus cap! An Offensive Tie is still available as well, and offer another football tie solution for all you tailgating champions out there! Once agin, we are excited for the beginning of the season and are ready to ‘fall’ head first into it! It is 1st and Ten and we are looking to score!
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!
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.
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…
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!!!