Johan Lindeberg played a big role in changing the world of golf fashion when he founded J.Lindeberg in 1996. Twenty years on and following a break from the business he is as keen as ever to influence golf fashion, as he told Andy Brown at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando.
Why did you decide to set up the company?
I came from Diesel, I had been there for six years and we were quite successful so I decided that I wanted to create my own brand. Each brand that I create somehow reflects the mood that I have been in at that specific time. I wanted to create a modern and progressive Ralph Lauren type brand in golf and to modernise golf and combine it with fashion. My vision was to create a lifestyle brand and to inspire people. That was in 1996 but we launched in 1997 – the first time my good friend Jesper Parnevik stepped out with the clothes was in January 1997, so twenty years ago.
You have been a big influence on golf clothing, how much would you say you changed it?
There are three things that changed and modernised golf – Tiger Woods, Callaway and J.Lindeberg. When I started I don’t think anyone had even thought about modernising and changing the way that golfers dress. We were among the first to offer technical fabrics and the first to have fit and shape on clothes and different colour combinations; it is hard to believe now, but at that time all the golf tops and pants were big and it was a very 1980s look. It might have taken ten years but now even Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are wearing fitted clothes that are more athletic and sexy.
When I started 20 years ago golf and fashion were so far apart and now they are closer together than they have ever been. I love fashion and I play golf which made me very unique at the time, but now that is more typical. When you watch TV a lot of players are wearing white belts and fitted pants and tops with different colours, it has almost become the new uniform on the golf course.
The brand are in 35 different countries. Are there big differences between European markets,for example Germany and Italy?
No not really – I don’t believe in differences, I believe in one world. Although the weather varies in different climates and golf has developed further in some countries than others, for example in Sweden it is very modern but in the US and a little bit in the UK it is more traditional. If you go to Stockholm then you will see everyone dressing modern, and if you go to Milan there is an Italian style which is more conservative. I don’t believe in treating one market different from another one though and see the consumer as an international one – I think people from different countries can dress the same way and have the same interests and tastes.
What are your plans for the future?
I started this brand in 1996 and left in 2007. I exited because I had different ideas from my investors and I felt creatively trapped. I actually re-joined the brand a year and a half ago, so I was away for nine and a half years. Since I have come back I am trying to push the modern lifestyle across all the areas of the business, so golf, skiing and active wear. I had nine amazing and very creative years out working with a lot of amazing people like J-Z and Justin Timberlake and become a photographer so I feel very refreshed and am coming in with a new perspective and ideas.