Why Get A Boring Winter Coat When You Can Get A Bear Coat With Paws And Claws?

When Carlo DiMeo hit the slopes a few years ago with a fake bear coat, it got a lot of attention. He's turned that novelty into a thriving business. He now produces grizzly, wolf, bison, and black bear coats all with paws, claws, and removable heads.

AR
Andrew Rossi

February 03, 20244 min read

Although they're made by a Colorado company, Wildcoats could be popular with Wyomingites.
Although they're made by a Colorado company, Wildcoats could be popular with Wyomingites. (Courtesy Wildcoats)

When Wildcoat founder Carlo DiMeo first hit the slopes in a fake bear coat — complete with paws, claws and a head — he turned a lot of heads. Several years later, what began as a fun novelty has become a thriving and expanding business making his unique wildlife wearables.

Wildcoats are more than mere novelties. The company, based in Boulder, Colorado, puts the “fun” in functional with its line of winter coats modeled after animals that survive by staying warm in cold places.

And with full buffalo, grizzly, wolf and black bear among the collection, there’s plenty that screams Wyoming.

“We say it's the warmest winter coat you've ever worn,” DiMeo told Cowboy State Daily. “And we're not exaggerating.”

A Beast Of An Idea

DiMeo's problem with his first bear coat was that it was just a novelty. Everyone enjoyed seeing his unique coat but probably wouldn’t enjoy wearing one, especially while skiing downhill in a snow flurry.

“We realized if it just looks cool but doesn't perform well, it wouldn't be too big of a hit,” he said. “It had to be functional.”

DiMeo used his background in engineering to design a perfect coat, blending its animalistic aesthetic with genuine function in cold weather. The result was a 20-page technical document that included “all the features for a coat, but it looks like a bear.”

Designing animal coats meant creating a distinct look. While many companies settle for an animal’s ears or eyes, DiMeo wanted Wildcoats to embody their inspiration in every way.

“We wanted to go a step further,” he said. “So, the mittens have claws, and the hood’s got the eyes, ears and now teeth. And they're all customized to the specific animals.”

  • Buffalo is one of the newest Wildcoats and, not surprisingly, have become popular with Buffalo Bills fans.
    Buffalo is one of the newest Wildcoats and, not surprisingly, have become popular with Buffalo Bills fans. (Courtesy Wildcoats)
  • Wildcoats started as a novelty that got a lot of attention on the ski slopes.
    Wildcoats started as a novelty that got a lot of attention on the ski slopes. (Courtesy Wildcoats)
  • The two newest Wildcoats, the Buffalo, left, and the Panda.
    The two newest Wildcoats, the Buffalo, left, and the Panda. (Courtesy Wildcoats)

Into The Wild

Wildcoats launched in 2021 with the Grizzly and the Polar. It’s since added Black Bear and the Wolf, available as full coats, hoods and cowls.

The materials used to build the animal coats are all synthetic but mimic the qualities that make bears, wolves and the other animals the coats are modeled after winter resistant.

A heavy fur coat is welcome in winter, but everyone wants to shed a few layers when it's warm. DiMeo and his team redesigned the coats so they could still look cool while staying cooler.

“This year, we added (a feature where) you can zip off the sleeves, hood and mittens,” he said. “On a spring day, you can take the sleeves off and get some cool air coming in.”

The coats were immediately successful with one kind of outdoor enthusiast.

“A lot of sports fans, especially cold-weather sports fans, have taken to it,” DiMeo said. “We had a great response from Chicago Bears fans and other bear sports teams.

There are plans to create lion and tiger coats, and Wildcoats just released the Panda because “people just love pandas.”

Lions and tigers and bears are nice, but Wyomingites could find Wildcoat’s latest coat particularly alluring. The Buffalo has a horned hood and hooves on the mittens. They’re already a hit with Buffalo Bills fans.

“It's one of my favorite ones in terms of how the design came out,” DiMeo said. “They nailed it on that one.”

It’s Crazy, But It Works

DiMeo’s thriving enterprise of animalistic winter coats started as a funny choice of apparel while skiing. His desire for something different laid the foundation for Wildcoat.

“If you look, whether you're skiing or out around town, a lot of coats are like blacks, browns and grays,” he said. “Earth tones and solid colors. There's not a lot of variety beyond what color or pattern people wear. That's why we've been pretty successful. People take to our coats. It's radically different than what you would normally see.”

DiMeo knew the idea was silly on paper, but he wasn’t deterred. Everybody wants to have a good time, and sometimes that means going downhill like a beast.

“It's fun to have fun,” he said. “Don't take yourself too seriously. Wear something silly and have a good day.”

  • Wildcoats come complete with animal heads as hoods, teeth and all.
    Wildcoats come complete with animal heads as hoods, teeth and all. (Courtesy Wildcoats)
  • The Polar Bear wildcoat isn't just a white version of the Grizzly. Its head features and distinct to the species.
    The Polar Bear wildcoat isn't just a white version of the Grizzly. Its head features and distinct to the species. (Courtesy Wildcoats)
  • The "paws" of the wildcats are detachable mittens that have pads and claws.
    The "paws" of the wildcats are detachable mittens that have pads and claws. (Courtesy Wildcoats)

Andrew Rossi can be reached at arossi@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Andrew Rossi

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