GOLF EUROPE 2014, held in Germany earlier this week, proved to be a successful platform for a number of golf fashion and lifestyle brands during the international golf fair staged in Augsburg for the third time, writes Cutting Edge Golf editor Ben Evans.
The golf fashion and lifestyle sector provided an interesting and eclectic mix of brands in Augsburg (so a big thank you to GolfBusinessNews.Com for allowing us space to discuss this further here). While this writer hopes to see this area of GOLF EUROPE grow next year, I was intrigued by some of the stories, including new brands to market, a number of products made close to HQ’s in Europe, and also one strong environmental story to share with our readers (more information on Cutting Edge Golf at the end of this article).
An eclectic mix: for example the vivid colours of ‘henry & magda’ golf shoes of Munich, an emerging and stylish brand exhibiting for a second year, were found just a 25 ft putt from the famous three stripes of adidas, founded circa 1949. Like the city of Augsburg, the new was sitting well with the historic.
The subtle, earthy and soft tones of new, Stuttgart based, fashion brand SPOON (some great clothes on display, and the team said the event had worked well for them), rubbed shoulders quite happily with nearby xfore Golfwear, from Olfen near Dortmund, a bright new brand whose attention to detail (in stitching, plackets, buttons and clever graphics) won the label one of the sought-after GOLF EUROPE Product Awards this year (with an entry list of 83 brands), an accolade which delighted the xfore team.
Company spokesman Oliver Vauth told Cutting Edge Golf: “We have enjoyed showing our golf clothing to visitors of GOLF EUROPE and we have formed some excellent new relationships with retailers and PGA professionals. Many have commented on the attention to detail and imagination that goes into our shirts and tops. It was great to hear this and to then win a Product Award was very exciting for us.”
The other apparel brand to win a major award was an established brand in Sunice, for an excellent new range which scored highly on use of colour, fun, fabric and functionality.
Jon Camp, managing director of Fletcher Europe, said: “We were delighted to win a Product Award at GOLF EUROPE. The whole team at Sunice works very hard to continually innovate and produce golf clothing which golfers love, and which gives our retail partners a great opportunity to grow sales. Feedback from customers always highlights Sunice’s use of colour, great fabrics and top-of-the range functionality and it is pleasing for these strengths to be recognised by a panel of award judges.”
Fashion/apparel brands represented alongside those mentioned above were Ashworth, Skechers (golf shoes from the big sports shoe brand with an exciting retailer story to tell) Glenbrae, Tommy Hilfiger, AUR, Garmin, GolfBuddy (both offering distance-measuring watches), Wilson Golf, Lambda Golf (quality shoes made in Portugal), Under Armour, Loudmouth, Wild Green, Biion, Glove-it, White Ball, Malouk, denigo, Lyssom Luv (an interesting hat/scarf brand from the Northern Rhine area), Récife and others, the latter a belt brand from near Paris which combine beautiful materials and local manufacture with a real sense of style.
Belts, hats, golf gloves, luggage – fashion merges into lifestyle easily in golf these days and one of Cutting Edge Golf’s favourite brand discoveries was Corqe, a family business from Portugal which makes sustainable golf products out of natural cork and other recyclable materials, including golf grips, gloves, bags and luggage. I was really impressed with the aesthetics, feel and light weight of these cork items; waterproof, recycled materials, made locally by a firm run by two smart brothers who love their golf, Joachim and Dirk Delfortrie.
Joachim told us: “CORQE would like to thank everybody who came and visited us at the GOLF EUROPE Show 2014. The positive feedback and general interest was immense! We are very excited with the reception and we hope not only to provide great products but also continue to support for more sustainability in the golf industry.”
Organisers counted more than 2,000 visitors from 30 countries at GOLF EUROPE, visiting 115 exhibitors on the show floor.
Show organisers will certainly want to build on visitor numbers, but the brands we spoke to seemed happy with the quality of visitors, while the host city of Augsburg received strong reviews from many as a welcoming city with enjoyable and relaxing night life.
Germany is a vital platform for future golf business (as are Scandinavia and the UK etc). We – golf businesses – need to connect personally with each other at good venues. Today more than ever, you can’t beat ‘face-to-face’ meetings with good customers and Augsburg provides this venue, set against the backdrop of a friendly and historic city.
Cutting Edge Golf was delighted to see readers of the magazine in Augsburg and will certainly be visiting the event next year.
Cutting Edge’s first paper edition of the magazine is out shortly for retailers and PGA Pro’s in Europe. There have been eight copies of the title’s e-magazine so far (link to the September issue is http://benevansgolf1.newsweaver.com/newsletter/18ifdwehdfc).