For our Fall/ Winter collection “Treehugger: Tales of the Forest”, we wanted to partner with an organisation that shared our values of care and curiosity for the natural world- which is why we chose the beloved American icon of wildfire prevention- Smokey Bear.

It is estimated that nearly nine out of ten wildfires nationwide are caused by humans and could have been prevented. It is Smokey Bear’s mission to raise awareness, and encourage the prevention of these wildfires, an enduring issue in not only the American forests he protects, but in green spaces everywhere.
The instantly recognisable bear, depicted in his dark blue jeans and park ranger hat, didn’t always have the look we know him by today- in fact, the original mascot of the Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention (CFFP) was Bambi, Disney’s hit character in the eponymous 1942 film.
Though Disney agreed to loan the fawn’s image to the program for a year, they quickly had to find a replacement. It was then that Smokey was born, with the CFFP deciding on the powerful, and adorable, black bear.
The first poster was drawn in 1945 by American illustrator Albert Staehle, and looked like this (see below).
There was also a real Smokey Bear: in Spring 1950, in the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico, as a fire prevention crew struggled to extinguish a rapidly spreading blaze, they were able to rescue a bear cub. A crew member brought the cub home and cared for his wounds: he had survived by clinging to a tree, but was badly burned.

The story of his rescue became hugely popular in the state, then nationwide, and the attention prompted a parks official to gift the bear to the CFFP, hoping the bear would inspire public interest, and better their fire safety efforts. The cub became the living symbol of Smokey Bear, and went to live at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

According to Smokey Bear’s official website, “Smokey received numerous gifts of honey and so many letters he had to have his own zip code.” “He remained at the zoo until his death in 1976, when he was returned to his home to be buried at the Smokey Bear Historical Park in Capitan, New Mexico, where he continues to be a wildfire prevention legend.”
At Phipps, we’re friends of nature, and we love a good campfire - but enjoying the outdoors responsibly is key to the respect, and survival of, this natural world we love so much. When you’re out camping, remember: Only you can prevent wildfires.

Ten percent of revenue from our collaboration with Smokey Bear will go to continued wildfire prevention education.