Monday, January 25, 2010

Stuck in a Moment?

(Photos the sole property of Jack Nicklaus Sportswear)

Fashion is cyclical. Most of us are starkly aware of that. What was hip once will probably be hip again, some day. Golf apparel companies have been tapping into designs from the 60's, 70's and 80's for the past few seasons of men's clothing and the response has been predominantly favorable. Many of the younger players on courses all over the world dress something like the younger players did 30 years ago. The focus on more streamlined looks across fashion's horizon has been a catalyst for a movement towards more fitted apparel on the fairways - which is great.

That being said, how far is too far with regards to revisiting the past? Would you buy an exact replica of the argyle sweater worn by Jack Nicklaus at the British Open in the 70's? Nicklaus Sportswear thinks you will. They are unveiling a Heritage collection that takes actual pieces Jack played in and was photographed in during the aforementioned decade and recreates them for the modern player. I can definitely see a collection like this getting some attention in Asia, where Nicklaus apparel sells more readily, but I don't see American or European golfers biting...

Between the Slazenger Heritage Collection, the Nicklaus Heritage Collection and other historically-inspired apparel lines, one inquisitively-minded individual surely begins to wonder if this seemingly fun regurgitation is actually completely stunting creativity. Reinventing and rebirthing old apparel lines is cool if you actually plan to take them somewhere - and I'm not picking on the Nicklaus line, because I think this idea has a lot of potential a) if they use the line as a "slim-fit" version of the Signature stuff then continue to develop and push direction once they've established a presence golfers can relate to, or b) make it a one-time, limited-edition type thing - but if the push is aimless - perhaps to keep churning out knit shirts with "retro flair," (what doesn't have "retro flair" these days?) it's going to stale quickly and sooner than later, be obsolete.

I guess my point is simply that apparel companies need to be aware of becoming too gimicky and nearsighted. It's exactly what they expect from us - by "us," I mean the golf industry and by "they," I mean everyone else that thinks 'golf' and 'style' don't belong in the same sentence. If it sells, it sells - I know companies have to move units. There is no better way to educate golfers on the elements of style then designing, producing and flooding the marketplace with high-quality clothing, but you also need to show your younger or savvier consumer a little bit of progression, creativity and vision or the mission is lost...

I had someone remark to me recently, "golf clothing is such a game of extremes - it's like I have to choose between plus-fours or a spacesuit... I just want a cool shirt and some flat-front pants that I could wear anywhere..."

Sounds pretty manageable, but is it?



Anonymous said...

Nicklaus, Slazenger, Lyle & Scott, Pringle and Slazenger. All our yesterdays. There is no doubt these ranges will sell. But who to, golfers? I doubt it. All these great names from our childhood will move to a new generation. This time as a fashion item. Following the success of Adidas originals, there are no end of retro styled garments out there. No shortage of flagging labels needing a lift. They can all have a slice of the pie, if they can get the teenagers and early twenty somethings hooked. . . No pun intended

Randy said...

"You need the sizzle to sell the steak".

I think you need to build great basics to keep the customer coming back. Sure, the "sizzle" is fun, but it's only a small part of your business. And if all you have is "sizzle", then the customer is buying the bulk of his wardrobe from someone else.

Just my two cents.


Anonymous said...

You are 100% correct, why do all these old brands think they can be relevant today? The modern man is not interested in Nicklaus Heritage collection or Slazenger. I remember Seve wearing Slazenger in the 70 because my old man must have had half a dozen of those vneck sweaters. I particularly remember the fuscha pink they used to make. Why they think I or guys in their twenties or thirties would want to wear them know I don't know. Also they look like the same block they used in the 70's they haven't even bothered to update it. Its an old brand for the old man...thats his birthday and Christmas sorted.
I also remember my father wearing the sweaters with the cool little golden bear. But its the same story as Slazenger. As for sweaters with diamonds on the front, well its soooo golf! Yes every now and again these come into fashion but thank fully they go out just as quick.
There are golf brands that are looking forward, especially European ones. Why do we continue to get these old dead ones trying to come again I don't know but lets not give them any encouragement. My old man will be happy though!!!

Anonymous said...

Chevy Chase in Chaddyshack is my retro hero in the style stakes. Seriously!

Hack said...

I commend you for taking such a strong interest in the golf fashion/apparel world. It's something that would send lesser humans to their knees in frustration.

I too just wish I could have a cool shirt (and hat!) and a normal pair of shorts/slacks to wear.

Keep fighting the good fight.

Anonymous said...

Interesting but your are right who the hell needs another old brand being brought back to life. I wish someone would kill off Penguin as well as its the same old stuff just different colours. These brands are run by companies that just milk the little logo be it a Penguin, Slazenger (cat), crocodile, a golden bear or a golden eagle!! They suck!
Nothing new in their products at all same old, same old stuff.

Give me something NEW PLEASE!!!!!