Mickey Bear, the fleece that defined an era

The story of the iconic garment that led to the creation of Slam


Before Slam, fleece was mainly used to make plush toys

The date was 19 December, 1979. The temperatures were particularly harsh that winter, particularly for anyone taking part in a yachting regatta. Wool is a great fabric, but not at sea: it takes just one wave to drench it completely and hours for it to dry afterwards. Hours of damp and cold to which any yachtsman or yachtswoman is accustomed, but would happily do without. That is how four young yachting enthusiasts came up with a garment made of a material that was virtually unknown in the yachting world and had been used more for cuddly toys than for clothing until then: Thermal Fleece, commonly known as “pile”.

Many yachtsmen had never heard of it: they touched it, examined it and tried to understand its potential. In the end, several of them decided to wear it for the yacht races of the Winter Championship. This marked a turning-point for both yachting and the four young enthusiasts. They gave the fleece they were distributing a cute name, Mickey Bear, bringing to mind a teddy bear, one of the few items made of pile up until then. The Mickey Bear fleece was the first in an extensive range of Slam garments.

They were hugely popular, to the point that the founders started to create new and improved versions, adding trousers and a sleeveless jacket as well. Professional athletes who have chosen Mickey Bear for its innovative and high-performance technical characteristics include Dodo Gorla and Alfio Peraboni, who took part in the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. They were fast, determined and good, or rather very good, and the bronze medal in the Star class was theirs. Dodo and Alfio, on the third step of the podium, wore Mickey Bear and the newly created Slam, marking the beginning of another great story.

Back to blog