GBN catches up with Mossimo Gianulli, founder and lead designer of California-based golf fashion brand G/FORE, and finds out what the brand has in store for the new season and how its recent acquisition by Peter Millar is helping to grow the company’s global reach
How are things at G/FORE following the recent acquisition by Peter Millar?
The brand is doing unbelievably well. Having Peter Millar as a partner has been fantastic. They are so supportive and are helping us to grow and diversify into new categories. They’ve put us in a position where we now have more inventory, so we can go out and sell more effectively and grow our customer base around the world. So, the business is evolving very quickly thanks to our unique partnership.
On a personal level, I’m working even harder than ever, because I don’t want to let anybody down. I’m just one guy designing, so I have to do footwear, men’s and women’s apparel, hats, gloves and accessories – twice a year. Because we’re growing so much the process gets more enjoyable every day trying to evolve the brand.
What are the advantages of belonging to a big company like Peter Millar?
Well, for starters, its economies of scale and the logistics and shipping that Peter Millar provide us. They have given us access to their factories and fabric suppliers, which has enabled us to greatly enhance the quality of our products. For example, I’m now able to create these beautiful sweaters, in luxurious cashmere, at a standard my previous factory could never match.
What are the strongest markets for G/FORE?
America is obviously our strongest market, as that’s where we are based, but I really believe that the European consumer gets G/FORE more than the Americans do. So we see huge growth potential for the brand, not just in Europe, but also further afield in Asia.
What was your initial goal when you launched G/FORE?
What I was trying to do was create a brand that was disruptive, elegant and playful, along with some colour and fun. I really didn’t want to be like the other brands and what they were representing. Any great brand must have its own vision and strong brand DNA. I’m a big believer in consistent aesthetics. If a brand is truly great you should be able to tell who it’s made by without seeing a label. We have done a great job of establishing our DNA and been very consistent with our message and aesthetic.
You started off by offering a range of colourful leather gloves, and now offer a complete range of shoes, apparel and accessories. What was the strategy behind the development of the brand?
Gloves were our entrée into the golf space. I wanted to enter slowly, have a distinct point of view, and then build as the consumer was giving us permission as a brand. The strategy was intact prior to the launch of gloves, provided I could find a decidedly different brand voice. I believe we have done that and will continue to push on the product front.
Is there a certain target group, age-wise, for G/FORE products?
No, because I’m 55 and it appeals to me just as much as my son, who’s 26. He’s just as excited about every new product we launch as I am. I think it’s so much bigger than age. It’s all in the attitude and the way you wear it. You gotta own it!
Where can golfers buy G/FORE in Europe?
We have just launched our new international website – www.gfore.co.uk – where our products can be shipped anywhere worldwide. We are also stocked in some of the UK & Europe’s leading golf resorts and clubs, as well as third-party websites.
Will we continue to see more off-course inspired clothing from G/FORE?
Absolutely, in fact almost everything I design is intended to be worn just as well away from the course as on it. Ultimately, I hope that we become more successful as a fashion brand in our own right, than we are in the golf industry.
When I’m designing, I don’t really think about on-course, I do in that I’m using a technical fabric and is has to be wicking and have stretch, however I don’t think like ‘ooh golfer’. I want this adult or kid to look really cool, and then I’ll work my way back with fabrics that function, but I never compromise the aesthetic because it’s golfers I’m designing for.
Is the youth market important to you?
Hell yeah – teenagers that I know love our stuff. Kids now more than ever get to make up their own minds about what they wear. We make beautiful outerwear, we make amazing blazers, and I want kids to go out and say ‘hey I want to wear G/FORE for Prom!’.
Tell us about the inspiration behind the new MG4.1 shoe?
I saw the success that Nike and adidas were having in this category, but I wanted ours to be more like Pharrell’s shoe or the Yeezy more, than like a Nike, let’s say. However, I know that’s happening in the market place and I want to play on that, so I did it my way. I think MG4.1 is a little more elegant that the running shoe brands because I don’t want us to be an athletic brand, this a super lightweight fashion piece to me.
Tell us about the distinctive sole on this shoe?
I’m totally influenced by art and architecture, so there’s a wall in one of my books that has this auxetic pattern and I’m like ‘oh that would be so cool to have on a shoe’, because it gives me that energy and it looks very muscular and strong, so I took that inspiration and I don’t think the result could be any better.
How long did it take to design from start to finish?
It took me a year-and-a-half to get the shoe to where I was happy to launch it to the market, because I’m playing around with all different types of knits and chemicals for the structure. I changed the lacing system four times before it was right. All this stuff takes so many tweaks.
When it comes to style, what are your personal preferences?
I like things that are very graphic and simple, there is a way to wear colour and not look like a child. Fit is a big deal, I prefer a look that’s leaner and more tailored. I also believe it’s so personal. I’m trying to give some great options and let you sort it out and put your spin on it.
How often do you play golf?
About once a week. I actually live on the golf course at Bel Air and I’m a member of the board.
To discover the latest range of G/FORE products, visit www.gfore.co.uk