Could the “Rise of the New Active” Revive Golf Apparel?

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Photo courtesy: jlindebergusa.com

These days, sports have taken on greater dimension as unifiers and agents for change, and brands should be motivating and inspiring consumers in line with that.

“When we talk about active and self realization and community, when you’re buying a brand like Nike, it’s almost like choosing tribes,” Roberto Ramos, SVP of global strategy and communications at The Doneger Group, told Sourcing Journal.

And everybody wants to be part of the cool tribe. Unfortunately, until now “cool” wasn’t exactly synonymous with golf. But these days, golf is taking its place right alongside basketball and football—and golf clothes are stepping it up too.

At a presentation for the PGA Golf Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida last month, Ramos said consumers’ favor for more heritage lifestyle sports has cast golf in a new, more flattering light. And its reentry into the summer Olympics in Rio last year after a 112-year hiatus didn’t hurt either.

With younger players that are pro social and serving as a new class of ambassadors, more women participating, family country clubs and tech-savvy gadgets like the GolfBoard making golf fun again, the sport has become more flexible than it has ever been.

“It also sets up golf in the athleisure movement,” Ramos said, adding that there’s been more of a fashion injection into the sport.

There’s an opportunity now for golf to become the new active classic if it can stay the course and tap into consumers’ increasing desire for unique self-expression, vintage looks and old Americana, which plays well with golf.

“When we talk about experience, sports and active brands have no excuse [not to get it right], they are the ultimate drivers emotionally of what an experience should be,” Ramos explained. “What’s happening more and more is that connectivity around the product making you feel a certain way and then wanting to live in that world. When it comes to pro social that’s a huge opportunity for active. You’re catching an individual when they’re thinking outdoors and this amplified take on life.”

Brands that are already doing this well? J.Lindeberg, for one. The designer luxury line is so fashion forward, its golf gear could easily transition from the course to life, a versatility consumers crave today. Galvin Green is another Doneger sees as a strength for golf apparel. The brand has focused on the multi-layer concept, creating functional performance apparel to best outfit athletes for the elements.

Tying into its four key trends for Spring/Summer ’18, Ramos said there’s a lot in store for golf apparel that the sport hasn’t yet seen.

Intellectual

There’s a newness in active design across the board, with looks that are livelier, colors and patterns that are bolder, and fabrics that are protective, reflective, mesh and retro. But for the Intellectual trend story, it’s all about preppy and classic.

“It’s sort of novelty and a little bit more lifestyle, but without compromising any of the performance aspect,” Ramos said.

Color: Crisp whites with navy blue accents will be staples here, as well as off-whites and muted yellows.

Fabric: Fabric prints and patterns will feature mini geometrics in primary classic shades, like red, green and blue, and clever and fun with scattered golf tees or silhouettes of golfers swinging.

Details: Golf polos will start to surface with color blocking at the collar, multi-colored stripes and updated primary shades.

Infinite

Here, the look will be a mix between nature and technology, with pop effects and artificial colors.

“It’s a fusion between function and looking good in something conversationally interesting,” Ramos said of the trend.

Color: Colors will come in a soft range of aquatics with playful tones like pink, yellow and a retro green.

Fabric: Iridescents and foil-like textures will be key, as will performance sheer fabrics with neon bright accents that are starting to make an appearance at an elevated design level.

Details: Colorblocking, bold prints and patterns and techno mesh with allover or localized placement will also play a role.

Clandestine

Clandestine channels travel and global inspirations, taking cues from Africa and Brazil, with energetic colors and bold pattern combinations.

“It’s a bit more of a feminine component, but there’s a crossover,” Ramos said, nodding to the trend toward colors and patterns no longer being attached to a specific gender.

Color: Sunwashed neutrals and tropical brights will highlight this trend with faded sunset shades like pink and purple serving as the new neutrals, while rich, saturated jewel tones ground the trend.

Fabric: Global inspired woodblock and stencil prints will be prominent, as will mosaic interpretations.

Details: Localized placement and graphic florals in bright colors and bold pattern combinations lead here.

Metropolis

Metropolis is the darkest of the four trend stories for SS18, giving a nod—as its name suggests—to the consumers’ increasing urbanity.

Color: The palette will feature dark neutrals like navy and Bordeaux, metallic and bright oranges for contrast. Contrasting black and white will also be popular.

Fabric: Industrial mesh in heavy pigmented colors, mattes and two-tones will be a staple.

Details: Colorblocking and geometric patterns will show up on polos and digital and 3-D printing will play a role in inspiring this trend.


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