Apparel sales data for 2013 so far points to an overall performance of highs balanced by lows, although a strong product offering for 2014 could fuel optimism in the trade…
Before looking ahead to 2014 it is important to take stock of what has passed this year and last. Retail data compiled by Golf Datatech – and shared exclusively with GOLF RETAILING – points the needle gingerly towards optimism, judging by the sale of men’s shirts by golf retailers so far this year.
Men’s shirts account for very nearly 30% of golf apparel sales overall, and while Golf Datatech figures show that the volume of men’s shirts has edged down by 1.2% so far in 2013, compared to 2012, the value of men’s shirt sales so far in 2013 has risen by 2.1%. Bearing in mind the great summer’s weather all golfers in the UK enjoyed this year, it should not come as a surprise that men’s shirt sales in June, July and August were all up on 2012. [Ed: Well, that’s a relief.]
Golf retailers in the UK have hopefully reaped the profits of golfers buying men’s shirts at higher price points so far in 2013: according to Golf Datatech, in 2012, only 7.6% of men’s shirt sales crossed over the £50 mark, whereas in June, July and August this year, 12.4% of men’s shirts sold for over £50, as the UK enjoyed its warmest and driest summer since 2006. Ultimately, so far in 2013, the average selling price of golf shirts has risen by 3.3% to reach £31.78, which is particularly positive when you consider that a long winter left parts of the UK covered in snow as late as March, and that a concerted upturn in the weather did not arrive until June.
Not all the Golf Datatech sales figures are heading in the right direction. So far in 2013, the sale of men’s trousers has dropped by 6.3% in terms of value, and down 4.5% in volume, with the average price paid for trousers dropping down £42.48. The most popular price points for men’s trousers are between the low-end £30 and £39 – accounting for 28.9% of UK trouser sales among golf retailers over the past three months, and 28.1% of trousers sales over the course of the year to date.
The Year Ahead
GOLF RETAILING is a magazine for retailers first and foremost, so in gauging apparel for Spring Summer 2014, we asked two of the trade’s leading retail owners, Doug McClelland and Terry Sims, what has impressed them from the golf apparel companies for next year..
Looking ahead to Spring Summer 2014, what brands have impressed you so far?
The major brands are dominating the apparel market. Galvin Green’s line for next year is very impressive, and Oscar Jacobson’s is too – they have really got their act together and their pricing is very sound. Under Armour is also very strong and only getting stronger; there is no question about that. adidas, Nike and Puma are always strong, but what I have seen from Nike Golf for next year is particularly impressive.
Do you think general sports brands have been effective in establishing themselves in the golf market over the past decade?
Absolutely. Nike does not appeal to just golfers but to all sports people, which gives the brand an advantage. The strongest brands in golf today are also strong in other sports, and there are four of them in particular: Nike, Under Armour, adidas and Puma. They have the best design teams so their collections are always strong.
Most golfers already wear Nike trainers so they have already bought into the brand before they start considering their golf purchases. Under Armour is a relatively recent addition to that list of multi-sports giants.
Under Armour’s success in the United States is impressive, and they are leading the way in terms of product R&D, and producing new technologies every year. A lot of other apparel manufacturers change their colours and patterns each year, but recycle their technology and fabrics, whereas Under Armour is introducing advancements every year. The manufacturers need to come up with new technology stories every year to make sure their collections sell through.
What is the best-selling apparel brand at Silvermere?
Nike Golf is the biggest selling apparel brand at Silvermere by some considerable margin, and looking ahead to Spring 2014, the biggest problem we have had is not deciding what to bring in from Nike, but what to leave out. The whole range is outstanding but we can’t take everything. The colours and designs are strong and powerful, they have products to suit all ages and it hits all the price points, from entry level right through to the Tiger Woods Collection. I think 2014 could be a fantastic year for Nike Golf.
The Internet Golf Store is sole concessionee for House of Fraser Golf. What kind of apparel works well at the premium end of the high street?
In House of Fraser the popular brands are more high-street led, so they have been very strong. Authentic golf-only brands have generally under-performed in House of Fraser, as do other brands with very wide distribution. Calvin Klein is our biggest selling brand in there by a mile; it works well with its premium branding and mid-market pricing, especially now that ‘GOLF’ has been removed from its logo. Under Armour does quite well, and also Tommy Hilfiger.
The focus here has been mainly on technical collections, but what stands out for the more traditional golfer?
Cutter & Buck has gone back to cotton which I think is a good move – away from the technical fabrics – and they have produced a strong range for next year, which is well presented and well priced.
Cutter & Buck is returning to its roots for Spring 2014 in offering a cotton collection, with technical fabrics brought in for its outerware.
“We think cotton and Cutter & Buck fit really well together and have done for over 20 years,” says Peter Dwyer, marketing director at Premium Golf Brands. ‘It is important for the brand that it has a real point of difference in an over-crowded market. Being the brand that brings back cotton to today’s golfer feels like the right thing to do. We’re excited for a number of reasons; the cotton thing is big but the designs are more important. Most golfers only buy one or two garments from an entire collection, so each and every style needs to be a winner – that is our aim. It’s true we have evoked some nostalgia with the Spring ‘14 collection by bringing back cotton, while obviously giving it a very modern twist. This collection is not a step backwards to collections past but a massive leap forward for the brand in terms of branding, design and quality.”
Calvin Klein Golf has dropped the ‘Golf’ off its logo for 2014, to keep in line with the global branding beyond the golf course. Calvin Klein is also introducing its Radical Cotton fabric for 2014, which is a dual-layer fabric made from 60% cotton and 40% polyester, so it should have the look and feel of cotton, yet the performance benefits of polyester.
“This time last year, we introduced a new concept for spring 2013 – a small capsule collection we called ‘Street’,” starts Alan Dwyer of Premium Golf Brands. “We saw this as a stepping stone between fashion and golf. The shirts
were a smaller fit but not skinny. Everything had ‘CK Golf’ branding on the chest and the colours popped off the shelves. After the success of this collection and the gap we found in the marketplace, this is now the basis for the entire spring 2014 collection. In line with global branding the logo on our garments has changed. This is a pretty big change and something that we believe will make a big difference at retail for our customers.
“Prior to the new logo we had the word ‘Golf’ on the chest of all our garments and I think it separated us from the Calvin Klein brand a little too much. With the new CK logo, we sit right in there amongst all the other collections on sale in the high street – from sunglasses to jeans. It feels right and it also means our end customer can wear his polo shirt on or off the course without screaming golf. It’s an important step in the right direction for the golf collection and we’re delighted with the change.”
‘East Coast Prep’ Meets ‘West Coast Cool’
Bringing together design influences from both major seaboards of the United States, the Spring 2104 collection from Tommy Hilfiger Golf is also promised to come with performance benefits. TH Tech fabric 100% polyester, and intended to provide style and comfort in warm conditions, while TH Comfort Tech is a hybrid cotton.
For 2014, short-sleeved polos will start with an RRP of £50, while outerware options will reach £115. There are almost 100 product options with the men’s range, while the women’s line brings another 75 items, with retail prices ranging from £50 for Bermuda shorts to £115 for knitwear and outerwear.
Through a license agreement with The Fletcher Leisure Group, the Tommy Hilfiger men’s and women’s golf collections are available in the U.S., Canada and Europe at private and public golf clubs, golf specialty stores, sport specialty stores, and select resorts, as well as in the corporate channel and on tommy.com. Tommy Hilfiger launched men’s golf apparel in 1994 and expanded into women’s golf apparel in 2000; in 2004 the collections were introduced in Europe.
Under Armour Takes Coldblack Technology to 2014
Under Armour’s Coldblack technology is promised to offer the golfer a minimum of UPF 30 protection, and it should help to keep the torso cool it hot temperatures. Coldblack is designed to reflect heat rays, while it also features four-way stretch for comfort and flexibility. Under Armour’s embossed polos for 2014 (pictured) also come with an updated ‘performance golf fit’, and all-over embossed pattern. The shirts are made from a polyester and elastane blend and come with an RRP of £40.
Galvin Green Stretches to the Limits
Galvin Green is offering over 200 new products for Spring–Summer 2014, including colour options, and the outerware specialist promises it has tested its products’ capabilities more stringently than ever. Galvin says its quality control testing uniformly involves extremely high levels of exposure to water and numerous wash cycles, plus vigorous play-test sessions. Some outerwear prototypes even withstood time in a giant wind tunnel normally reserved for testing military hardware.
“We pride ourselves on our ‘We Never Compromise’ pledge, and this applies as much to testing the garments as it does to designing and manufacturing them,” says, Christian Nilsson, Galvin Green chief executive. “Golfers can have every confidence in the garments providing the level of performance they are looking for, as well as that tangible ‘feel-good’ comfort factor associated with all Galvin Green clothing.”
Pictured is the 2014 version of the Alex Gore-Tex rainwear jacket, made with mesh lining and coming with an RRP of £329.