1st and Ten- Bird Dog Bay

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!




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!!!


What’s in a name?

Here at Bird Dog Bay, we get a lot of comments on our brands name, as well as the naming of our products… The usual questions are Where is Bird Dog Bay? or What is “Dog Park Dos” or Who is Gus the dog?…  Even more common than those questions is the always entertaining, Who the hell comes up with all these names?!?

Steve enjoys brainstorming new ideas, especially when it comes to naming. Every mailer we send, every tie we design, is carefully, yet in the same manner casually named. A lot of times Steve will ask our opinions, and sometimes to give him ideas for design names… Yet at the end of the day Steve Mayer is a master tie namer!

The name of our brand, Bird Dog Bay, is a perfect example of Steve’s ability to conjure up humble and spot on names. Steve rescued Gus, our friendly mascot and lousy “Bird Dog” from a kill center in Illinois…Every morning Steve would leave his home for work, and Gus, would stare our sadly from Steve’s “Bay” window of his home on the west side of Chicago. Eventually Steve began designing our line of neckwear in that very home. Bird Dog Bay, really has come to represent home, wherever that may be… From the inlets of New England, to the warm Gulf waters of South Florida, to the Pacific Bays of California…

What we sell is a very unique product. Our neckties are seen as gifts, collectibles, and to some a simple addition to their everyday attire. We have Texas Longhorn ties, sock monkey Christmas Ties, Fly Fishing ties, Cowboy Ties, Dodo bird ties, Golf ties, American Flag ties, and the list goes on and on… Of course our fan favorite Dog and Hunting ties always come back every open season, yet all of the other ties, are carefully scripted colored, and named by Steve.


One example of a name, I enjoy, is “Birdie on Three”… A whimsically hand drawn white bird is hazardously yet playfully picking up a golf ball on the third tee of a golf green colored tie. A birdie also refers to the ever eluscent (at least in my golf game) stroke under par after the completion of  a hole… This tie is just one of the many examples that depict whats in a name here at Bird Dog Bay.


The History of Houndstooth

What is houndstooth?

Countless people ask us what the pattern means or represents… Interestingly, it can mean many different things. To people from the state of Alabama, and crimson tide fans across the globe, it represents the tradition of their beloved football program. The famous black and white check pattern covered legendary Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s famous wool fedora. It has become a symbol of the University program in many ways and continues to be seen across the Tuscaloosa campus during tailgates, and other events. In fact, Alabama has become so connected to the pattern that the pattern created a lawsuit over the proper usage of the pattern. Check out the incident here. http://www.al.com/news/tuscaloosa/index.ssf/2014/05/university_of_alabama_settles.html


Countless fashion designers also use the pattern to cover anything from women’s skirts to mens dress shirts… It comes in different sizes, colors, and fabrics… It is seen is countless manners. It has found a way to be a staple in classic American style. How did this come to be, you may ask? Lets look at the history behind houndstooth.


Houndstooth is also known as  dogstooth, making it even more of a perfect pattern for us here at Bird Dog Bay. It is a two tone textile pattern characterized by broken checks or abstract four-pointed shapes, usually in black and white, although other colors are and can be used. Here at Bird Dog Bay, we even created a christmas houndstooth, using red and green.  The classic houndstooth pattern is an example of a tessellationHoundstooth checks originated in woven cloth, usually from wool, found in the Scottish Lowlands, as a clan pattern that was easily recognizable, but are now used in many other materials, like woven silk! From Scotland, it found its way to England mills, in and outside of London around the Industrial Revolution… Eventually British fashion found its way across the pond, to our great country… The pattern has recently made a revival in American fashion… It also had quite a showing during the 1970’s!



The traditional houndstooth check is made with alternating bands of four dark and four light threads in both warp and weft or willing woven in a simple 2 by 2 twill, two over/two under the warp, advancing one thread each pass.We use the pattern to make houndstooth cufflinks, houndstooth cummerbund sets, houndstooth neckties, and houndstooth bow ties! We even have pre tied houndstooth boy’s bow ties

 In essence, houndstooth has become a classic traditional pattern that pairs incredibly well with everything from formal attire, to a white oxford shirt and khakis for a Southern tailgate. Roll Tide! 


“Hoppy Hour”

Summertime seems to bring an elated feeling of jubilance here in Chicago. The city seems to double in size and opportunity. Every bar seems packed, every beach filled, and every apartment rooftop crowded. At each of these locations there always seems to be one constant…Beer. Ah, yes that delightful fermented beverage that brings people together around the world… Beer has even found its way onto one of Bird Dog Bay’s necktie designs… Yes. A beer themed tie.

Steve explains how our “Hoppy Hour” tie came to be…

“One of my best buddies, Matt Gallagher, is the head brewer and co-owner of Half Acre Brewery in Chicago. He started as a home brewer when he lived next door to me in Humboldt Park, and six years later he has built one of the biggest, most respected microbreweries in all of Cook County. At the start, he planted three strains of hops in the front lawn to get the business started; now just a handful of summers later those hops grow all the way to the roof and Matt still comes back to that house to harvest them for a special small batch every fall. Here’s a nod to my buddy, an inspiration to me and this design. Swing by the taproom if you’re ever in Chicago and get a brewery tour: http://halfacrebeer.com/

FYI: Modest ass kissing gets you free Daisy Cutter Pale Ales for life.”

“Hoppy Hour” comes in three colors and is worn best alongside a cold pint… Cheers!



“Baseball, Our National Past Tie”

Swing Batter Batter, Swing…

It is difficult to think of something more American than the game of baseball… The smell of the fresh cut grass, the sound of the rowdy crowd, the sights of people crowding into iconic ball parks to enjoy our country’s national pastime. The dog days of summer seem to find a way to bring out baseball fans, even those not remotely interested in the great sport.

In Chicago, the energy and enjoyment surrounding the game of baseball seems heightened with two storied and beloved franchises calling the Windy City home. Here at Bird Dog Bay, the office is split on which team in Chicago reigns supreme, but we can all agree that summer in Chicago means baseball!

On one side (the south side) you have the iconic black and white clad hit-men, the Chicago White Sox. Known for their hard nosed and passionate fans, along with their 2005 World Series Champion team, the Sox (as they are called by most Chicagoans) pride themselves on the their performance, beautiful ballpark, delicious hot dogs, and die hard fans. Any game at US Cellular (the cell) is sure be a hit!

On the other side (the north side) you have the storied lovable losers, the Chicago Cubs. Playing their home games at the historic Wrigley Field, (which is celebrating its 100th season) the Cubbies continue to keep their passionate and devoted fans hoping and wishing for a World Series appearance. The brick, the ivy, the bleachers, the manual scoreboard… all create an atmosphere that is unparalleled in baseball. If only they could put together a winning ball club!


Steve, being a native and loyal Chicagoan, immersed in the great baseball tradition of the city could not go another collection without making a baseball themed tie. Alas, “The National Past-Tie“… A whimsical yet traditional tie that “ties in” a classic repetitive pattern with intricate drawings of a pitcher an batter! This baseball tie is sure to be a home run with any fan of the game! The rich blue silk color seems to give the necktie and warm and jovial summer feel, while transitioning well into the Fall and Spring. The lime green bow also lights up a summer outfit in a playful way!

Whether you are sitting at home, the office, or at the ol’ ballpark, grab a maxwell street Polish, an Old Style and tie on a National Past Tie! A sports themed tie that is both professional and fun!







The sense of unity and appreciation for this great county started recently with the advancements of Team USA in the world cup and continues with the 4th of July weekend on the horizon. At Bird Dog Bay, we are excited to celebrate this special holiday with all the festivities Chicago and our country has to offer: Whether you will be attending attend the Freedom Fest at Navy Pier, or simply have a neighborhood cookout and watch the nighttime fireworks, the 4th is an amazing time to gather with friends and family and celebrate our Independence Day. Show your patriotism with us this 4th of July, by sporting  sporting the classic American flag with our ‘Star & Stripes’  tie in blue (pictured above),  America’s favorite companion  ‘Black Lab Heaven’ tie in red (shown above), or our traditional ‘America’ socks (pictured below).

Don’t forget, wherever you are in Chicago and across the US of A, be “Proud to be an American!” Happy Fourth of July to everyone!







World Cup

The world cup has seemed to gain some steam here in the United States! Being based in Chicago, we at Bird Dog Bay have seen first hand the intersection of patriotism and the passion for sports create a powerful movement. Grant park was filled to capacity with fans, young and old, looking to catch a glimpse of the US Men’s soccer team performance on a large screen monitor placed in the park for the Ghana and Portugal games.

The passionate energy has carried over to our ties here at Bird Dog Bay. Steve’s World Cup tie is a phenomenal example of our excitement and support for the sport and the US Men’s team. Whether you will be chanting the “I believe” US soccer call at the local pub, or sneakily watching the match on your desktop a t work, the world cup tie is a perfect complement to any outfit to show your support! The world cup is an exciting event that brings together people from all over the world and seems to divide and unite folks in mysterious ways. Pictured below is a intern David Johnsen sporting the ‘World Cup” bow in green!


Make sure to “score” with this fantastic sports themed tie that will become a wardrobe classic any day between the next 4 years… and for the next World Cup in Russia! Whoever you are rooting for, this tie has you covered. Soccer, futball, whatever… This world cup has proven the excitement has captivated the United States, and is here to stay.


“Represent Your Peeps” -Easter 2014

“Last Sunday was a double whammy of a day. Some people embraced the warm weather, opting for yard work or an outdoor BBQ. Other folks–yours truly included–watched Bubba Watson pull away from Jordan Spieth to claim his second green jacket in three years. And while Sunday was great for The Masters, the warm weather, the return of “Mad Men,” and so many other things, Sunday was also good as it was Palm Sunday–meaning Easter and candy was one week away.


Easter, as I’ve come to learn, is a big holiday around Bird Dog Bay; not for any real reason, save a widespread love of sweets and the opportunity for Steve to draw another handsome Spring tie. Featured below are two offerings–“Tasty Peeps” and “Easter Tie”–which are available in our studio now, just in time for this Sunday’s festivities.

The first, “Tasty Peeps,”  is our new offering for Spring 2014. Available in coral, yellow, and blue, this tie features a bunny and his ideal meal, a couple delicious Peeps. This tie is an absolute perfect choice for any occasion next Sunday, providing an air of personality without being outrageous. Its repeating pattern exudes an air of formality, but upon closer glance, features nothing but the Easter Bunny and the classic marshmallow treat.

Another Easter tie, titled, well, “Easter Tie”  is another option for this year. While Steve’s title is a bit basic, the tie is anything but, featuring cute chicks and the occasional bunny. Originally done for Spring 2013, the design proved to be a mainstay in our collection, the perfect accessory for those desiring a bunny tie or chicken tie in his Easter basket. “Easter Tie” is available in Green and pairs perfectly with a navy blazer, oxford, and loafers.

If “Tasty Peeps” and “Easter Tie” are a bit too much for you, as always, Bird Dog Bay has you covered. Other great seasonal options include “The White Stripes” or “Neapolitan Plaid,” each in an array of colors, for a more formal look. Regardless, whether next Sunday’s plans include a trip to Mass or a get-together with friends and family, make sure to knot up with one of Bird Dog Bay’s Easter ties to attract cute chicks or some-bunny special.”

Zachary Workman