Editor Dan Owen exclusively caught up with Helen Willsmer, Director of Callaway Apparel EMEA, at this year’s PGA Merchandise Show to find out about the brands direction for AW2020.
There are very few authentic golf brands left, but Callaway Apparel is as authentic as a golf brand gets” explained Helen Willsmer while taking us through the collection at the PGA Merchandise Show in January. Callaway Apparel are intrinsically linked to the success of the wider hardware giant. With their success they have shared over the last few years, it makes it easier for the golfer to wear the Chevron on their chest, as there is a good chance they using a Mavrik or an Epic Flash already.
“There are lots of lifestyle brands out there, and there is lots of competition from sportswear brands. But Callaway Apparel is designed by golfers for the golf course, and to help you play your best golf.”
With helping golfers in mind, Callaway Apparel introduced SWING TECH last year. An overarching philosophy to reduce restrictions on the swing from the garments being worn, seam construction and fabrics were looked at in the initial collection. Now in 2020 SWING TECH is incorporated across the entire range.
“Every single piece has been designed to play 18 holes of golf in in all conditions. A good example of what we are doing is our new golf puffer,” explained Helen. “We’ve really taken on board feedback from our customers. We’ve always known they needed stretch to work on the golf course. However following feedback from consumers, retailers, and our tour staff, we have incorporated stretch on the back of the elbow as that was somewhere the golfer was being affected.”
While Callaway offer the higher priced products, it’s fair to call them a mid-market brand, at least from a pricing perspective. However, Helen is looking to challenge that. “We are elevating the product details without elevating the price, offering the purchaser exceptional value for money. It’s small things that make a difference. For example, putting in a stronger collar stand that will last longer. And you sometimes get a kickback from retailers that people won’t buy as often if the product lasts longer. My argument is if it lasts longer, and washes better you’re more likely to buy more, and to tell your friends how good the item is.”
“All over fun prints are a continuing trend, we’ve used umbrellas and raindrops this season which is pretty fitting for the time of year! And it’s nice to have a bit if fun and not be as serious with the garments, because at the end of the day golf is a game hitting a ball around a field, it’s meant to be fun.”
The impact of golf on the environment is something we are going to hear more and more form it’s detractors in the coming year. But eco-friendly is proving to be more than just a buzz word and is becoming a sustained trend. Helen explained how Callaway Apparel have started to do their bit. “Environmentally friendly is a big trend for 2020 and beyond. We aren’t going to say that everything we produce will be eco-friendly before a set date. However, we are working with new fabrications. Our European retailers are demanding these changes, and to know where we stand on sustainability, and the UK retailers are starting to ask the same question.
“We’re using a lot of coatings on our garments. It’s quite easy to coat a jacket to be water repellant, its less so to make it water repellent and environmentally friendly. Every time you wash a traditionally water-repellent garment, microbeads would come off and end up in the ocean and be harmful to the wildlife. We’re now working with Nanotex using there Aquapel coating, which bonds with the fabric at a molecular level, and will not wash off the garment at any point. Our puffers and some fleeces use Thermore for their filling, the filling material is made from recycled plastic bottles.”
In a market when brands are often trying to be all things for all people, with Callaway Apparel, it’s good to see a brand concentrating on what they do best. Producing golf wear for golfers. GR