The 2014-2015 PGA TOUR season is underway, and the Frys.com Open and Shriners Hospitals for Children Open provided a look at some early season trends. In this week’s Style Insider post, I talk about Ryo Ishikawa (the good and the bad), micro floral prints, fu manchus and more. Check it out on PGATOUR.com.
I’ve often said that no matter your style preferences, there is at least one brand in the golf apparel market for you these days.
While nearly every style is accounted for, the same can’t be said for every size, though. The segment of the golf apparel market composed of big and tall golfers has been underserved during the game’s fashion revolution over the last decade. However, Aveo Golf is working to change this by providing big and tall golfers with stylish and functional threads.
I recently had a chance to talk with Aveo Golf founder, Darius Hicks, about the inspiration behind the brand, his design process, and the brand’s distribution at major retailers, such as Golfsmith and TGW.
GolfThreads: How did the idea of Aveo Golf come about?
Darius Hicks: I am a 6’4″ 300 lb. golfer who loves the game. The problem was, as I got better and began to play newer courses, including a few higher end private courses, I wanted to look like a golfer. This doesn’t sound like much of a challenge until you walk into a store or visit one online. I dare say it was almost impossible. I have large thighs, a long rise and big calf muscles all of which work to my disadvantage when it comes to fashion on or off the course.
Now to get even more specific, I was invited to my very first pro-am and knew it would be a struggle to find the right golf look. While I looked for something suitable (which failed miserably), I worked with a friend to develop a pair of unbranded blue shorts that fit.
These shorts fit and felt great, and they got a bit of attention. To make a long story short, this is how Aveo started, as a pair of blue shorts with no brand, no price tag and no plans to start a company.
GT: Your tag line is, “Play Fearlessly”. What does playing fearlessly mean to you, and how does Aveo Golf’s apparel help big and tall golfers accomplish that?
DH: Well first, it’s important to say that playing fearlessly is a character trait shared by every member of the Aveo team. It is the ability to push hard, to not accept no when you believe that yes is possible, and more than anything, believing that you can win. Playing fearlessly is taking chances and never letting fear paralyze you. It is what our brand is primarily built on, and it’s the characteristic of the men who wear and will wear Aveo. Every piece we manufacture will be a tribute to pushing toward success. Every piece will be a celebration of overcoming odds. Every piece will be a reminder that playing and living fearlessly is how you reach your dreams.
Wearing Aveo is extremely comfortable, which is important in golf. We give you room to move, room to swing, and style options that allow you to be confident. Having confidence in yourself is the key to playing fearlessly and winning.
GT: Your first product was a pair of unbranded shorts. Talk a little bit about the process of working through prototypes, and different fabrics and designs.
DH: Here are a few words to describe the process: hard, long, stressful and challenging. Did I mention stressful? It is full of obstacles and hesitation. But, it is also rewarding and nothing short of amazing as you watch it come together.
I knew what I wanted. I knew the fit had to be perfect so that other big and tall golfers would approve of what we released. I knew the fabric had to be spot on and perform just as well, if not better, than the established brands.
More than anything, I knew that since no other company was focused 100% on the big and tall golfer, I had to get it right.
When you have a strong opinion of what you want, and you have based that opinion on input from the people who matter (big and tall golfers), you have to be strong and fearless. You have to stick to your principles. Along the way, many people will attempt to sway you. Most people will do so from a positive place. Some will do it from the standpoint of what’s easy. But, no one will fight for your vision the way you will. You have to remember to stay the course and push for what you want, or in the end, you will not be happy with the result.
And the good news is we did it.
GT: You have designed each piece to address specific problem areas for big and tall golfers. What are these areas and how do Aveo Golf’s products provide solutions?
DH: Not only did we poll big and tall golfers to understand them, but I am a big guy myself (6’4″ 300 lbs.), so I have lived with these issues and I’m highly familiar with them.
1. Waistband. It’s no secret that waistbands can pinch, and heaven forbid if you pick up about 5 pounds, it’s only going to get worse. Every Aveo pant or short has our comfort flex waistband, which provides more than 2″ of give. You literally and figuratively can grow with Aveo.
2. Rise. We offer a longer rise product, but still keep it reasonable. For guys who need an extreme rise, don’t worry. We are designing as we speak.
3. Thigh. This was a big problem for me. I have thighs like a linebacker and it is tough to find a pair of golf pants or shorts that comfortably fit my thighs. So we have carefully added room to that area. You won’t have a problem squatting or swinging in these.
GT: What is the range of sizes that you offer?
DH: We offer waist sizes from 38” – 46” and inseams at 32”, 34”, and 36”. Also, our golf polos will be released in a few weeks. We will offer XLT, 2XLT, 2XLB, 3XLT, 3XLB, and 4XB.
Don’t worry, we will be expanding here, as well.
GT: You mention on your website that you don’t copy existing styles based on popularity. How important is it for Aveo Golf to have its own unique look?
DH: Highly important. Our customers are important to us and they need an apparel partner who has their needs, interest, and style in mind. We are not our competitors, so why do we need to look like them. You will see this when we release our shirts soon.
GT:Recently, retailers like Golfsmith, Golf Town and TGW starting stocking Aveo Golf apparel. What does distribution through these retailers mean to the Aveo Golf brand and how does it validate your concept?
DH: It’s been a blessing to have such strong retail partner support for a young company. That is a significant point of validation. There are many brands desiring to be sold in the very same channels where we are succeeding.
These retailers matter to our customer. They send the message to potential shoppers that Aveo is a real brand that can be trusted, so give them a try. We are currently available online with each of the listed retailers, but will soon become available in key stores. Everyone make sure you request that your retailer carry Aveo its store and that will help us grow faster.
I’m also proud to announce that we are launching in Dick’s Sporting Goods very, very soon.
Since January, I have served as the Style Insider for the PGA Tour, contributing a weekly column covering golf fashion. I discuss everything from tournament style recaps, to interviews with players and designers, seasonal style guides and apparel scripts. I haven’t promoted my PGA Tour columns here on GolfThreads, but I’m going to make a better effort moving forward.
GolfThreads’ Fall Favorites series looks at my go-to pieces this fall in the hopes of giving you a glimpse at what I’m wearing on the course this season. I would love to hear what you think about my picks in this series. Drop a note in the comments area below. Also, let me know some of your favorites that I should check out.
After a week of watching the Ryder Cup followed by the Dunhill Cup, it is no surprise that layering is on my mind.
One of my favorite layering pieces this year has been Dunning’s 1/4 Zip Stripe Stretch Thermal Pullover. I received a black one in early spring and just received another one in navy blue (or halo as Dunning calls it) for fall.
Prior to trying the Dunning pullover, sweaters were my go-to layering pieces on the course for the past few years. I’ve always found sweaters to offer a better fit through the body and arms compared to jackets and pullovers. Plus, I liked that sweaters were quieter and they provided a very classic look for the game of golf.
SEE ALSO: Dunning Golf: Stylish Players Wanted
With the 1/4 Zip, Dunning has managed to capture all the features I love about sweaters in the athletic and casual look of a pullover. It has led me to change my mind about pullovers and relegated sweaters to second-class citizen status in my closet.
As with all Dunning garments, the 1/4 Zip is built for comfort and performance, and this starts with the fabric. It is made from a 94% polyester, 6% spandex blend that provides the warmth you need on a cool day without the bulk of a heavy jacket. The inside of the 1/4 Zip is lined with a brushed material that not only provides a soft, sweater-like feel, but it also offers a thin layer of insulation to lock in the warmth. The outer layer has a silky smooth hand and just the right amount of stretch without having that elastic-y feeling that a lot of technical fabrics have these days.
The warmth that the 1/4 Zip provides in such a thin profile makes it a highly versatile layering piece. On cold mornings, I’ve layered a sweater or sweater vest under it. The flexibility of the fabric allows an additional layer like this to comfortably fit underneath. On those wintery days when it has been raining sideways, I’ve worn it under a light waterproof jacket and achieved the warmth and playability that the conditions demanded.
The drawstring around the waist serves two purposes. First, it forms a seal with your body to keep the cold and wind from hitting your core. Second, the drawstring keeps any excess material from interfering with your golf swing and putting stroke. I have to say, I’ve never really used the drawstring. With the stretchiness of the fabric, I’ve been able to size down and get a trim fit, while still maintaining comfort and performance. That snug fit through the arms and body that I got from sweaters over the years, has been replicated by Dunning in the 1/4 Zip.
One feature of the 1/4 Zip that is unique, but often overlooked in reviews and descriptions, is the cavity at the front of the neck that allows the throat to sit unfettered. This keeps the cold and wind off the neck without having that tight, zipped up feeling you get with other pullovers and jackets.
You will also notice from the pictures that the zipper does not go all the way to the top of the neck. This may seem like a small detail, but it is significant in the comfort of the piece. I can’t tell you how many jackets and pullovers I’ve sent to the bench because the zipper ripped up my chin during the swing or grabbed the hair on my chinny-chin-chin after a few days of skipping the razor.
From a style standpoint, the 1/4 Zip offers the same clean, understated and athletic look that perfectly fits with Dunning’s ‘Engineered for Athletes, Designed for Players’ motto. The contrast piping around the placket adds an air of sophistication, while the single racing stripe down the spine gives the 1/4 Zip an aggressive and sporty aesthetic. This is the outerwear piece for the player that appreciates a refined style and prefers to make noise with his game, rather than his apparel. For the true minimalists, an even more basic version of the 1/4 Zip is available minus the contrast piping and racing stripe.
In addition to the 1/4 Zip, Dunning also offers a complete layering system with base layers, vests and sweaters in natural and technical fabrics that allow you to mix and match pieces based on the weather. Check out the video below. Founder, Ralph Dunning, will tell you everything you need to know about the philosophy behind Dunning’s layering system. Keep in mind that Dunning was the pioneer in layering for the modern game. Think back to the 2007 Masters when Zach Johnson slipped on the green jacket after strolling the fairways in a unique cold weather look that consisted of a form-fitting base layer underneath a polo and topped off with a color coordinating technical vest — all from Dunning. How many times has this look been copied by pros and amateurs alike since the 2007 Masters?
It is not often that I use superlatives here at GolfThreads. Identifying the best shoes, shirts, jacket, pants, etc. is difficult these days. Unlike 10 or 15 years ago when only a few golf brands really ‘got it,’ there are more and more brands that are producing stylish threads with great fabrics.
While identifying ‘the best’ is next to impossible, I certainly have my favorites or my go-to pieces that I wear regularly on the course. For that reason, I’ve decided to create a new series for the season called, Fall Favorites. This will hopefully give you a glimpse into what I’m wearing regularly on the course. I would love to hear what you think about my picks in this series. Drop a note in the comments area below. Also, let me know some of your favorites that I should check out.
J.Lindeberg Golf Gusten Pant
There is no better place to kick off my Fall Favorites than with J.Lindeberg Golf’s Gusten pant. If you are a regular GolfThreads reader, the fact that a J.Lindeberg pant is on my list of favorites probably isn’t a huge surprise. I’ve been wearing various styles of J.Lindeberg technical pants for 10 years. I’ve worn everything from the Troon to the Troyan to the Trenton. This year, I was introduced to the Gusten and the Elof (another great pant that I will write about in the future).
The Gusten is flat out my favorite pant for the season. I’m favoring pieces that produce very clean, well-tailored aesthetics, and the Gusten is a perfect match with my personal style these days.
J.Lindeberg classifies the Gusten as a narrow fit pant, which is the brand’s slimmest fit. It possesses a very modern silhouette that is slim through the thighs with a slight taper through the lower leg. Don’t let the narrow fit description scare you, though. We are not talking about an ultra skinny pant that takes your voice up an octave and requires a spatula to put them on and take them off. The Gusten fits true to size. I sized up on my first pair thinking that I might want a bit more room and ended up having my tailor take them in. I went with my normal size on the second pair and they fit perfectly.
Speaking of tailoring, the Gusten begs to be tailored with a short break (see above). I find that the combination of the narrow leg opening and a full break leads to material bunching around the ankles. Get the legs hemmed so that they just brush the tops of your shoes and slip on a pair of cool socks from G/FORE because you will be showing some ankle when you are reading a putt.
SEE ALSO: J.Lindeberg Golf Raises the Bar…Again
The key to the slim fit of the Gusten pant is the fabric. For years, J.Lindeberg used micro twill, which was a great water resistant, breathable fabric in its own right. This year the brand rolled out a new micro stretch fabric that took the performance, comfort and fit of its pants to a new level. This new fabric is composed of a water resistant, bi-mechanical stretch material with an 89% polyester and 11% elastane blend. The micro stretch fabric is even lighter than the micro twill, and the touch of elastane provides great range of movement, while delivering a slim fit. The v-notched waistband also adds to the comfort and playability.
From a style standpoint, the Gusten pant is totally on-point. The tuxedo tape on the side seams really separates the Gusten from other technical pants. This unique design element is not only eye catching, but also adds an air of sophistication. The jetted front and rear pockets are sharp, and the ribbon around the internal waistband is pure class.
From the well-tailored fit to the high performance micro stretch fabric and high fashion styling, the Gusten is a complete technical pant for the season. It is easy to see why the Gusten pant is one of my Fall Favorites, and apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so.
J.Lindeberg brand ambassadors, Camilo Villegas, Jamie Donaldson and David Lingmerth, have been sporting the Gusten this fall. Villegas has typically favored the straight-legged Troon and Troyan trousers over the years, but he sported the narrower Gusten at the Deutsche Bank Championship during the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Donaldson opted for the Gusten at the Wales Open the week before the Ryder Cup. David Lingmerth wore a vibrant blue pair at the Wyndham Championship.
If you are looking to pick up a pair of Gustens, Trendygolf and Fairway Styles have the Gusten in stock. Trendygolf also did a great post in the Magazine section of its website earlier this year on the various fits of J.Lindeberg pants. It is a great reference. Check it out.
As golfers, this is the time of the year when our attention turns from beating the heat to beating the setting sun on that quick nine after work. It is also the time when the shorts slowly start making their way to the back of the closet in favor of pants. I don’t know about you, but I’m always left with the dilemma of buying technical golf pants that can’t be worn anywhere except the course, or risk ruining a pair of work trousers traipsing through leaves, wet grass and mud — and that’s just on the fairways.
The solution? Bluff Works pants.
Stefan Loble, the founder of Bluff Works, emailed me a couple of months ago to introduce his company. I’ve received several emails like Stefan’s over the last couple of years from non-golf brands (biking, hiking, etc.) that think their pants may be great crossover pieces for the course. You haven’t heard about any of these brands or products here on GolfThreads because they didn’t actually transition that well to the course. Some were too warm. Some were too puffy (padding is great for cycling, but not golf). Others were just ugly.
Several things about Stefan’s email, though, made me cautiously optimistic. (1) The pants on the Bluff Works website looked stylish and possessed a modern fit. (2) Stefan talked about his schedule that entailed seamlessly bouncing from one activity to the next. (3) Bluff Works pants had a very successful Kickstarter campaign.
Kickstarter campaigns are a great vehicle for startup brands to test a concept or product with little risk. Many young technology and fashion companies take their ideas to Kickstarter in the hopes of gaining funding. I knew Bluff Works had something special when I checked out its Kickstarter campaign and it demolished its goal of $13,500 with more than 1,000 backers pledging over $128,000. That’s nearly 10 times its goal.
I’ve had my pair of Bluffs for about six weeks now and worn them nearly everywhere in an effort to beat them up. I battled the flu a few weeks ago and basically lived in my Bluffs for several days. So how do they perform? Here’s a long list of what I like about Bluffs and few ideas I have for future versions.
What I Like About Bluff Works Pants
Unique fabric. Bluffs are constructed of a polyester fabric that is tough as nails but also has a Teflon-like finish that resists stains. There is a technical quality to Bluffs without looking techy.
Easy care. Bluffs are extremely easy to care for. You can play 18 holes in these on Sunday, throw them in the washing machine that night and wear them to the office on Monday morning. After washing them, just put them in the dryer for about 10 minutes, take them out, lay them flat and wear them again.
No ironing. Bluffs resist wrinkles like a plastic surgeon in a room full of Botox. You can fold them, stuff them in a gym bag, or roll them up in a ball and throw them on the floor. Trust me. I did all these things.
Lightweight and breathable. The weight and performance of the fabric makes Bluffs a winner on the course.
Stop sitting on your phone. The side cell phone pocket is my favorite feature on the Bluffs. This pocket has been discretely worked into the hip area on the pants. Not only does this address the comfort issues of stashing your phone in your back or front pocket, but given the bending issues reported with iPhone 6 Plus this past week (#bend gate and #bendgazi), it may save you a trip to the neighborhood Apple store.
Dress them up or down. Off the course, Bluffs can easily go anywhere or do anything. I’ve paired them with a button-down shirt and oxfords at the office, a t-shirt to and from the gym and a casual shirt for dinner with friends. In Bluffs, you’ll always look on point and appropriately dressed for any occasion.
Modern, athletic fit. This is sure to appeal to a wide range of golfers. There is not a lot of stretch in the fabric, but the athletic fit allows you to comfortably make full swings and squat to read putts.
Range of traditional colors. I’ve been wearing the grey color and I would classify it as an ash grey. It is very versatile and can be paired with either black or brown belts and shoes. Also available is a charcoal grey, navy blue, brown and khaki.
Attention to detail. If you think Bluff Works is just another fly-by-night startup, think again. Stefan has an apparel consultant who has been in charge of operations for complete couture lines, two pattern makers who work on pants lines for national brands; wear testers, fit models and a design firm. On top of that, Bluffs are very well constructed.
Ideas for Future Versions of Bluff Works Pants
Rear pockets. The rear pockets are narrower and shallower than my favorite pairs of golf-specific pants. You can stash a scorecard and a glove without an issue, but a yardage book may be more difficult.
Slim fit. The athletic fit is the equivalent of a modern straight fit. I’d love to see a slimmer fit with tapered legs in the future.
Trendy colors. It would be great to see a dark green or burgundy added to the mix along with some patterns like houndstooth or herringbone.
Overall, Bluffs are a great pair of pants that will serve you well on or off the course this fall. The pros far outweigh any desired improvements. Also, at just under $100, they are priced similar to many technical golf pants, but you can actually wear these off the course, as well.
Hunter Mahan broke out a new pair of prototype kicks from FootJoy at the Ryder Cup. Mahan, may have fidgeted uncomfortably next to Phil Mickelson at the U.S. Team press conference as Lefty and Tom Watson sniped at each other, but he looked comfortable throughout the matches in his new FootJoys.
Mahan has never been one to shy away from testing new FootJoys. Over the last few years, he has worn the brand’s Icon, Superlite and D.N.A. models, and now these. There is no word from FootJoy on Mahan’s shoes, so we can only assume that they are a prototype at this point.
As Twitter follower @Scheps14 accurately pointed out, these new FootJoys, with a pillowy outsole, look a little bit like Adidas’ Crossflex shoe. I think the outsole also has a similar aesthetic to Skechers’ GO GOLF Pro shoe that Matt Kuchar has been sporting.
Mahan’s prototype has an athletic look. The uppers appear to be constructed of a lightweight material (mesh?) with the FJ logo on the outside of the mid-foot area and a well-defined heel cup. I would have to assume that the upper is waterproof. I don’t think any professional golfer would step foot on a course in Scotland without a waterproof shoe. That would have been the second biggest gaff of the 2014 Ryder Cup next to playing Mickelson twice on Friday and zero times on Saturday, but I digress.
The eye-catching features of Mahan’s prototypes, though, is clearly the outsoles. Damn, those look comfy. Maybe too comfy. They also have a traditional spike system with nine soft spikes on a contrasting plate.
Although Mahan sported a light grey/white/blue colorway during the matches, earlier in the week he wore a black/white colorway.
Stay tuned for more info as it becomes available.