Black Bear Brand for SALT Optics

Human Connections: Josh Sirlin / Black Bear Brand

Josh Sirlin has been a friend of SALT. for a long time so it made sense to collaborate with his company, Black Bear Brand, on making a Horween Leather eyeglass case. If you follow us on social media you have most likely seen Josh on our feeds. We thought it would be great to give you a little more info on Josh and the Black Bear Brand.


1) Tell us a little bit about Black Bear Brand and what inspired you to bring back this 100 year old brand?

Black Bear Brand is a 100+ year old brand that has a lot of mystery to it. They made amazing product that ranged from denim, wool jackets, shirting, corduroy pants, tin jackets and pants to coveralls!  The brand died and was completely abandoned many years ago. I love history, stories, mysteries, creating things… and shit I’m told I can’t do or have. This was/is all those things. When I get my OCD ass fixated on something and on top of it I’m told you can’t do that… its going to either get messy, as I will take it far enough to get it or crash big trying.
2) Where do you draw inspiration from when creating the items for Black Bear Brand? 
A collision of all the things I’ve experienced and what I dream to have… traveling, curiosity, and jumping into things with no experience or certainty of how it will turn out with a “fuck-it” mentality. "Lets see how this will fly", has thrown me in the mix with some of the most passionate and talented  people I could dream of. This and that my brian is a tornado of thoughts 24/7 (I don’t sleep a lot).  I love the experience of life and what I’m dreaming of is what I draw inspiration from.
3) Walk us through your design and production process? How does a Black Bear Brand piece begin?
I really like or want something… then I start figuring out how I can create it the best way I can. Over the last 25 years my curiosity and all around life’s journey has intertwined everything in my life with exploring and creating shit.  My design and production process is me playing chess with designing , materials, and manufacturing. I’m a dream chaser; I’m chasing a dream every day.  I love to deconstruct and learn… I will call someone, a factory, a supplier without thinking of much more than: that is fucking cool. Over time the stars have aligned and the receiver of that call has been intrigued or interested enough in my crazy idea to welcome me into their world and then the fun begins.
4) You visit Japan often, what brings you to Japan?
I love the passion, dedication to excellence and design approach I find in Japan.  I am inspired in a deep way by the design culture. It has deep roots of honor and respect. Over the past few years the friendships I have in Japan have become like family.
5) What is your current favorite bike to ride? 
My 1948 Panhead!
6) What place would you like to visit via motorcycle that you haven't had a chance to yet?
Japan; I’d love to ride from the south point to the north point of the country! Other than Japan... I’d love to explore everywhere. I haven’t done shit yet; would love to explore all of Europe, South America, and Africa, just to start.  Hell, I better get going!
7) Out of all the Black Bear Brand products you've made, which one is your favorite and why? 
Love everything! Favorite is always what is moving from the dreaming to creating stage. If the place was burning down and I could only grab one thing it would be the rough-rider horsehide western shirt it's something very dear to me.
8) Favorite SALT. piece and why?
Love the LOWELL frame; they are strong as hell and big for my bobble head!
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