Ben Evans, editor of new golf trade fashion magazine ‘Cutting Edge Golf’, offers GolfBusinessNews.Com readers a second snapshot on fashion from the exhibition floor at the PGA Merchandise Show in Florida
Ten years or so ago Peter Alliss said that just as the car industry had matured so that it became impossible to buy a new car which was unreliable, so it was now the case with the golf ball – the days of the ill-performing rock or blob had come to an end.
A decade on, I think we can say with some confidence that it is at least nearly impossible to buy a badly made golf shirt from any respected brand. The white-heat of competition has forced higher standards across the board and these standards were very much in evidence at the PGA Show in Orlando.
This ready quality, matched with visiting PGA pro’s and buyers who seemed more confident about the economy, created a feeling of guarded optimism among those present in the Orange County Convention Center on International Drive. It was good to see.
The ‘touch’ of garments all around the Golf Apparel Hall was making visitors smile. Ralph Lauren, Bobby Jones, Peter Millar, Cutter & Buck, Nivo, Martin Golf, Dunning, Kartel, abacus and Chervò all presented items that wowed with their feel this year.
Lots of great European stuff: joining abacus, Chervò and Kartel, J Lindeberg had a really good collection, parts of which could take you from the course to the trendiest city bar. This writer heard most admiring independent whispers about Oscar Jacobson’s new range, while the likes of IJP Design, Lyle & Scott, Wolsey (championed by brand ambassador Johan Lindeberg), Tom Morris, the ever stylish ECCO, HIRZL, Daily Sports and, of course, the powerhouse of adidas, all vied for attention against the European arms of such fashion household names as Ashworth, FootJoy, Callaway Golf Apparel, Nike and PUMA. The selection and quality on display was mouthwatering. It hasn’t always been this way recently, but it was this year.
J Lindeberg’s marketing specialist Kevin Stokes told Cutting Edge Golf about a “fantastic response” to the colour, fabric and fit of the new J Lindeberg collections, creating great market focus in the US for the brand.
Peter Millar’s managing director for Europe Bob Smith said this had been the best show on record recently for Peter Millar. Thrilled with the quality of product he is able to present to key accounts, “you can tell that buyers feel a little more optimistic about their decisions, as if the tide for retail is turning a bit this year”.
From an established name to a newbie which nevertheless breathes authenticity, Wakàn Golf from Italy was exhibiting for the first time with its “100% Italian blood” clothing brand from Pisa. Company founder Luca Falorni told Cutting Edge: “The experience has been very good for meeting new customers and spreading the word about our apparel from Tuscany, a very popular and unique fashion story made here in Pisa.”
There was also plenty of cool golf from the cool side of America. Travis Mathew, the Haus of Grey Coöperative, Linksoul, Devereux, and Straight Down are all looking, and largely finding, ways to turn golf’s fashion pages forwards in a relaxed direction that will appeal to both established golfers and those looking into the game for the first time.
Meanwhile Canadian brands like Nivo, Sunice and Second Skin consistently show their US and European counterparts that the intellectual property rights to making great clothing are far from exclusive and that the North is providing some of the very best ideas of all.
Picks for best booth (stand) presentations of top lines? Here are four: Jofit, the athletic lifestyle brand for women created a canvas of colour that just drew you into the booth.
The PUMA team combined great display, imagery and tracks from a resident DJ, while Pukka headwear wooed customers with a lounge-feel of soft lighting and their own moody music.
Meanwhile, Bobby Jones featured two excellent display cases on the booth: one a 30-foot pictorial time-line celebrating the career of one of the game’s greatest players while another showcased official replicas of the four trophies of Jones’ historic 1930 Grand Slam. Visitors looking at a strong apparel range could combine this with an exclusive viewing of the trophies at a well-attended drinks reception.
All brands present through the three days were helping to create this new rumour that it is nearly impossible to buy a bad golf shirt these days. Let’s hope this positive fashion vibe continues through other golf shows this year – Cutting Edge Golf will be there to let you know.
The first Cutting Edge Guide golf fashion trade magazine will land on desks soon. For more details and to subscribe to the Cutting Edge e-newsletter, contact Ben Evans on firstname.lastname@example.org, +44(0)1747 820384. Interested readers can view the first three Cutting Edge e-newsletters at: