How streetwear conquered America’s golf courses

by | Oct 12, 2021 | Golf Shoes

The growth of golf has stagnated for most of the 21st century. After the enormous Tiger-inspired boom in the late 1990s, the sport failed to continue to attract new demographics in the decades that followed, a process undoubtedly caused by Tiger’s steep decline in the wake of widespread marital problems, a number of injuries and a Stay in rehab.

Then came the pandemic, and for the first time in a long time, golf began to regain popularity. The fact that it is an inherently socially distant activity made it possible to keep courses open even when almost other leisure activities were interrupted, and an increase in attendance ensued. If you stay open, when everything else is closed, apparently they will come.

While there has been much valid criticism of the sport’s persistent diversity problem, the game of golf is getting younger. The aesthetics of the game are changing accordingly, and nowhere is this more evident than in the growing love affair between sport and the world of streetwear.

Nothing is more telling than the fact that Nocta, the joint effort of Nike and Drake, has just launched a golf line. The offer was small, but sold out almost immediately. There is no telling whether young golfers or streetwear enthusiasts who love golf will make the purchases, but the very existence of the collection suggests a bigger trend in sport.

But it’s not just the big boys who expand their offerings. In fact, one could argue that Nike is a little late for the party as it benefits from a movement launched by newer brands with younger, more diverse founders.

Earl Cooper, the co-founder of Eastside Golf, told InsideHook, “This movement is not a situation where golf leaders have finally figured out what golf is missing. That had to happen a long time ago. ”

Brands like Eastside combine classic golf functionality with motifs from a wide variety of subcultures: golf and prep. Golf and hip-hop. Golf and surf. Golf and cannabis.

A crew neck sweatshirt from Eastside Golf

Eastside / InsideHook

This rebranding project makes sense as the sport’s fan base is growing. The DIY ethos of the early days of streetwear resulted in the makers making bootlegs, short runs of t-shirts and hoodies for friends and others in their circles. It was both about breaking clothing norms and building a community of like-minded outsiders, as well as just producing and selling cool clothes.

This impulse to contradict trends and norms is probably why preppy influences have poured into streetwear in recent years – think Rowing Blazers, Aime Leon Dore, Noah, etc. – into the streetwear world. Golf, on the other hand, is moving in the opposite direction, with golfers worrying less about super-technical or appropriate clothing and more about shedding the sport’s old, stuffy reputation.

“Golf has benefited tremendously from the pandemic and there have been many brands like us who were already in love with golf and were in a prime position and had the timing to capitalize on that momentum.” says Cooper. “There used to be no marketing that resonated with a non-golfer.”

Jojo Regan founded Manors Golf after playing golf regularly with co-founder Luke Davies in the summer of 2018. He came to the game later than I did so he wasn’t prepared to wear what pro shops had been selling. “

This conflict of styles inspired the couple to start a new type of golf apparel brand. “Between the two of us, we wondered why there isn’t a golf brand that focuses less on dressing a touring professional and more on dressing the everyday golfer who is not concerned with performance-enhancing equipment. and just wanted to feel good and look good. “

Navy blue sweatshirt from Manors

A hoodie from Manors Golf

Mansions / InsideHook

Erica Malbon says she got quite a bit of resistance when she and her husband launched a similarly quirky brand, Malbon Golf, in 2017 with her husband, the community we have created has really proven that there are people like us who love golf , but also have interests outside of golf that they can express during the sport. “

Golf has long been an exclusionary sport. Part of it is simply that it is expensive, but another part is that it has long been marketed to serve a very specific type of country club recruiting. Golf is for doctors, lawyers, bankers, business people; It’s not just a sport, but a place to do business, impress customers, and cultivate relationships. People who didn’t have a traditionally “good” job were seen as outsiders. Colored players have long been considered outsiders – Tiger Woods has always been the exception to confirm the rule. Hell, Augusta National, perhaps the holiest place in the entire golf universe, didn’t allow black members until 1990.

An Esquire article from June 2021 proclaimed that “golf is finally cool again”, but also that those in power must recognize that “golf has no future if one is to rely on the rich, white privileges”. that it was built; The only way forward is through accessibility, hospitality, and investment that benefits disenfranchised communities. ”It should also be noted that there is a difference between streetwear and sportswear that – as a GQ article on The New American Sportswear rightly points out – getting harder to spot. The genres are so blurred that there are only a few pure streetwear brands or sportswear brands left. And brands for long (or new) neglected golf fans fit exactly into this gray area.

A pink shirt from Malbon Golf

A t-shirt from Malbon Golf

Bad Golf / InsideHook

As these new, less conventional golf brands have their own communities, they will also drive adoption of the game through new demographics. Regan says: “There are musicians, photography directors, leading figures in the fashion industry … more and more people see golf in a light that challenges this stifled misconception that it is stuffy and reserved for old men.”

Existing and respected streetwear brands are also leaning on the sport of golf’s newfound popularity by reviving some iconic pop culture references with the sport. Extra Butter, a heavy hitter in New York’s most popular streetwear boutiques, has launched a huge collection for Happy Gilmore for its 25th anniversary. Co-founder and CEO Ankur Amin said of the collection: “The game is getting younger, more inclusive and more diverse. Our consumers see athletes and artists take up the game and they start to become interested in it. The golf fashion, however, stands still. There was a lack of inspiration and good storytelling. We love that the sport is evolving and becoming more accessible and accessible and we wanted to be part of that movement. “

The places where people play golf are even changing. Check out Inness, a newly opened resort in the Hudson Valley that has a golf course but doesn’t take the sport too seriously. The property owners don’t even play golf, they see it as an activity that goes hand in hand with their design-led, rustic aesthetic. The pro shop is run by Williamsburg sportswear label Adsum and other new brands conquering the crossover space between athletics and streetwear.

Another new golf apparel founder I spoke to – Muni Kids’ Maxton Reinland, named for the urban courses Reinland grew up in – says he “doesn’t quite identify with traditional golf culture and what all brands do drive forward “. Back then. “The urban course is considered the black sheep of the golf world, not funded and funded by the government or private interests, which means that it is often neglected – and cheaper to play.

Gray hoodie from Minu Kids

A hoodie from Muni Kids

My kids / InsideHook

Reinland sees that golf is developing from its reputation almost out of necessity. “Some of the ‘traditions’ have been affecting the growth or perception of golf for years. “It’s going to be a cooler sport, no doubt.”

Cooper speaks of longevity, as any brain behind any big brand will: “What survives us is that it’s not just a trendy brand, it’s a deep love and passion for the game, but we have a deep one too Love and passion for non-golfers and I think that’s where golf has always struggled. They avoided non-golfers and only tried to get golfers to play more golf, but that doesn’t make the game grow. ”

Ultimately, it targets this last group – new golfers, other golfers – who will fix the sport’s biggest problem, as detailed above in this story: the noticeable lack of diversity. “We don’t want to be around much [traditional] Golfer, ”says Cooper. “We want to be with a lot of non-golfers and then we want to evangelize and tell them how cool golf is and then get them into the game.”

It starts to work.

The Six New School Golf Brands You Should Know About

Eastside Golf

The brand was founded by a couple of Morehouse Golf alumni and makes golf staples like polos and hats, as well as other accessories like headgear. But it also includes the streetwear side with sweatshirts, t-shirts and even an Eastside Golf x Air Jordan IV golf shoe collaboration that saw more than 250,000 people enter the lottery to get the shoes.

Mansions golf

A British brand that fuses the old school golf aesthetic of the 50s with modern high-end sportswear. Imagine that Bagger Vance also wears a hoodie and thick t-shirt every now and then.

Heather gray sweatshirt from Random Golf Club

A hoodie from Random Golf Club

Random Golf Club / InsideHook

Random golf club
This brand is probably the closest thing to a traditional golf brand of any featured here, except that there is nothing traditional about it. They’re also a media brand with a magazine and podcast, and in addition to clothing, they also sell a variety of golf accessories, from rangefinders to bags.

Bad golf

In the true spirit of streetwear, Malbon, founded by the creative couple and golf enthusiasts Erica and Stephen Malbon, has made a number of collaborations with bigger brands like Nike and Budweiser.

Black long-sleeved zip by G Fore.

A down jacket from G / Fore

G Front / inner hook

G / front

Started by Mossimo founder Mossimo Gianulli, this brand is completely on the technical side of the spectrum, but is based on upscale euro brands. Watch out for your golf shoes, which look traditional but have a number of sassy design flourishes.

Muni children

Inspired by the unpretentious golf culture of municipal golf courses, Muni Kids has set itself the goal of making golf more inclusive. Muni Kids feels more like a golf-inspired streetwear brand than the other way around. True to their inclusiveness, they also turn the limited-edition drop model on its head by keeping drops open for a set period of time rather than a set number of items, so anyone who wants a product has the opportunity to get one.

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