We caught up with Brand Director for Callaway Apparel Helen Willsmer to find out more about their new collection and how they are poised for more growth.
What’s your background in Golf Helen?
I’ve worked with Callaway Apparel now for 16 years, from the original Ashworth licence, then with Callaway and now with Perry Ellis the licence holder. I’m fortunate enough to manage the EMEA region encompassing sales, distributors, product and marketing.
What’s the premise behind the brand?
To the consumer Callaway apparel is part of the wider Callaway brand, and doing fantastically. There is a huge responsibility on my shoulders to make sure that apparel is growing proportionately along with that, but only if we do it the right way like they have. Whether it’s a driver a wedge, golf balls or a polo shirt, the brand is held to the same standards across the board. Globally, Callaway are the number one golf brand in the world and the principles that enabled this are just as important and applicable to the clothing arm of the brand. What helps set us apart is being fortunate enough to work with Perry Ellis who are experts is designing golf specific clothing. This combination puts us in a very unique and strong position.
The golf apparel landscape is very crowded and competitive right now, with many brands jostling for position. Brands have a product offering from many different disciplines including fashion, sports and lifestyle. What separates and differentiates us from these is our authentic to golf ethos and mission – to create product which is truly designed for and benefits the golfer. We work closely with our green grass partners to ensure they get the same level of technology in a garment as they would a golf club. From design, to materials, construction and technology, and customer service we aim to be the equal of the larger Callaway brand.
How have you been evolving?
Every year we closely monitor what product has resonated with the market from both a retailer perspective and also a consumer perspective. What products have sold through, what hasn’t, what products have stood out to our retail partners and why? This feedback helps us evolve and improve our products. We listen and understand what is selling well and why. From there it is about blending this feedback with our designer’s creative flare to propose new designs which look at new trends and inspiration. Of course, apparel is subjective so it is important that we look at ways of trying to offer something for everyone under the Callaway Apparel umbrella.
What is Swing Tech?
Our design team are always looking to improve the product for golfer. Understanding the specifics of the golf swing and freedom of movement is an area that the team focus a lot on. As such, we looked at standard shoulder construction which during the swing is where a lot of resistance occurs. A raglan sleeve design helps reduce this substantially by moving the seam away from above the shoulder we have allowed for a much greater amount of stretch and movement in this precise area. We’re such strong believers in the technology that we’ve put it in every polo shirt in the line going forward. The Swing Tech logo on products denotes this design feature.
What are the standout products in Men’s?
Starting with our fashion deliveries, brand new colour accents provide fresh options which will tie back to our base colours. As Swing Tech has been hugely successful this year we have rolled this out even further to incorporate it into all new men’s fashion styles. It shows our commitment to and belief in this unique point of difference.
This year we have also produced some truly unique fun prints within our men’s polo offering.
The ‘Golf Bag Print Polo’, ‘Golf Tee Print Polo’ and ‘Chev Print Polo’ is a great way to offer something other than the traditional block colours and stripes. It’s part of the wider micro conversational trend that is so popular in fashion but giving it a Callaway spin that’s authentic to golf.
We have totally updated and redesigned our all year-round polo to feature a brand-new premium fabric to give a better hand feel as well as incorporate our Swing Tech design. Fashion layering styles in each delivery ties back to fashion colours.
We continue with one of our core strengths which is our all year round offering of core colours in polos and layering providing a truly comprehensive collection.
Why an Odyssey collection?
In some markets, such as the UK, we see there is a real demand for a higher level of logo branding and placement on our products. We know these products resonate with the Callaway loyal consumer and sell well. Therefore, we have expanded our collection of products for 2020 which feature the Callaway and Odyssey logos allowing consumers to emulate our tour professionals. There are two polo styles our ‘Tour Polo’ and new ‘Soft Touch Odyssey Polo’ and four very different types of layering options one of which being the Full Zip Fleece Vest. We have seen strong demand in 2019 for these styles and believe this will be a key area of growth for us.
What’s new in Ladies and how important is this proposition?
The challenge with women’s apparel is keeping the collection tight so as not to overwhelm the smaller retailer but at the same time ensuring there is as much variety as possible for the lady golfer. With ladies wear we have to react to women’s shapes and trends. Female golfers are looking for something that they might see on the high street, but it also has to fit and perform as golf wear.
Geometrical and conversational prints that are proving popular in fashion are key to what we’re doing for SS20. We’ve got a great Flamingo option that is available in a polo, midlayer, and skorts. This means we can sell one piece to the lady, and they can make four or five outfits with it, or they can combine the set for a matched look.
Tell us about being Official On Course Apparel for the European Tour?
The European Tour partnership is huge for Callaway Apparel and is a great way to get additional exposure for the brand. At the British Masters we saw 77% sell through which demonstrates the extent to which our clothing is resonating with consumers in the marketplace. We are also working with the European Tour at selected events, such as The Irish Open and Scottish Open, to dress the volunteers and marshals – so when you combine this with our provision of the Tour’s staff uniforms, the brand starts becoming quite ubiquitous. We’re really excited by the additional exposure it will bring and should drive a lot of traffic to our retail partners.
Why should a retailer stock Callaway Apparel?
We offer competitive pricing and margins, which is essentials in the golf market. But more importantly we offer a phenomenal service3. You need to know that your rep isn’t just going to come in twice a year for your pre book. You want to know that your sales rep is going to be available all year around to support you. We can help with events, with fashion shows, we’ve always got log product available at short notice. We’re here to help you as much as we can.
We also offer a very comprehensive Retail Merchandising portfolio of options to accommodate all types of retailer, larger solutions are dependent on a commitment and investment from them in our brand such as our slatwall and freestanding units. However, we offer smaller components and items to allow any size of retailer to effectively present our brand on their store. GR