With high-tech moisture-wicking fabrics and built-in mobility features, ‘equipment for your body’ has become a trendy catch phrase in the golf apparel industry. No doubt this is a stretch…except for STATE APPAREL.
STATE APPAREL was founded last year by Jason Yip, a veteran of Silicon Valley start-ups. Jason’s goal is to reinvent golf apparel by carefully integrated cleaning elements into water and wind resistant apparel to allow players to clean their clubs, golf balls and hands on their shirts and pants.
I’ll have a review of STATE APPAREL’s gear in the coming weeks, but I recently had a chance to talk with Jason about STATE APPAREL’s unique garments.
GolfThreads: My mother always told me not to wipe my hands on my clothes, but you are encouraging golfers to wipe their hands, clubs and golf balls on State Apparel’s pants and shirts. What inspired you to incorporate wiping elements into the pants and shirts?
Jason Yip: Moms are great like that and we love them for it, but many of us, whether consciously or subconsciously, wipe our hands on our clothes anyways without encouragement from anyone. If you watch the pros closely on TV (we have a good example on our blog), you’ll notice them wiping their putter, wedges, and hands on their clothing. We noticed the same with recreational players. This behavior helped us realize that golf’s persistent problem of water and dirt needed a better solution and inspired us to build STATE APPAREL.
With this inspiration, we set out to reinvent golf wear. By incorporating intuitive and efficient wiping layers, we’ve transformed clothing into equipment. With STATE APPAREL, golfers are fully equipped to perform their best no matter what they encounter on the golf course.
GT: Talk a little bit about the process you went through in finding the right material for the wiping elements. How many prototypes did you work through?
JY: Clothing like this has never been made before, so sourcing the right fabric was an adventure of trial and error. Finding wiping fabric like a towel is relatively easy, but it was challenging to find a wiping fabric that elegantly integrates with and complements the body of our garments. To help narrow down the options, we started by sourcing the ideal performance fabrics for our shirts and pants. Then we could work with a smaller list of vendors and drill down to identify wiping fabrics that worked in harmony.
After countless fabric samples, prototypes and tests, we found the perfect fabrics for damp and cool playing conditions that you’ll find in golf destinations like San Francisco, Pebble Beach, Bandon Dunes, and Scotland.
Fabrics are critical to STATE APPAREL’s products and we’re constantly experimenting and prototyping to develop for a variety of weather conditions.
GT: Aesthetically, the wiping elements have been brilliantly incorporated into the design of the shirts and pants. How important was it to you to include these elements while also maintaining a clean look?
JY: Thanks for appreciating our designs. Good design and the corresponding clean look is very important for us.
We respect and appreciate the traditional styles of the game and knew that our new and unique products needed to operate within the confines of familiarity in order to be received well by golfers. For example, we started the pants with a classic flat front, yet the wiping layers in the cuff, side pockets and back pockets provide a subtle contrast and hint of modernity. It’s just enough to peek the interest without being distracting.
Beyond looks, we strived to create products that are intuitive to golfers. The subtle contrast and texture makes the wiping layers easy to find and use. The cuff can be turned up for use on the course, and turned down after the round to hide the dirt. We’re left with a clean and classic, yet modern look that takes you stylishly from the fairways to the clubhouse. We think it’s perfect for today’s discerning golfer.
GT: Aside from the wiping elements, talk a little bit about the performance of the fabric on the shirts and pants. How breathable is it? What can people expect from STATE APPAREL from a performance standpoint?
JY: As I mentioned, it was critical for us to find the ideal fabrics for the body of our clothing. For the shirt, we chose a blend of polyester and spandex, which is an ideal combination of breathability, moisture management, and movement. We went with a thicker fabric compared to the paper-thin performance shirts on the market, which makes for a more substantial and comfortable shirt that won’t show off your chest hair or nipples. Our shirts have a streamlined and structured fit to keep fabric from interfering with your swing.
Our pants are made from a woven blend of polyester and spandex, which lends to a traditional yet modern look with just the right amount of stretch. Designed to hold up to San Francisco’s early spring weather, the pants are water, wind, and stain resistant. The light fleece-wiping layer throughout the interior provides warmth and comfort, and the fabric’s construction ensures breathability. We’ve positioned our signature “Competition Pant” between a summer pant and a heavy-duty rain pant, which makes it perfect for the PGA’s West Coast Swing or a trip across the pond for The Open Championship. With the success of the “Competition Pant” we’re developing warmer weather versions that can take a competitive golfer from the US Open through the PGA Championship. To cater to everyone’s preferences and body shapes, we offer pants in a slim or straight cut.
GT: Prior to starting STATE APPAREL you spent most of your career in the tech start-up scene. What did you learn during your time with start-ups that you have applied to STATE APPAREL?
JY: When I moved to San Francisco after graduating from UCLA, Internet startups were all the rage. I naturally gravitated towards and learned from the innovative and creative culture, which has been integral to starting STATE APPAREL. I approached the golf industry with Apple Computer’s mantra of “Think Different.” I figured if I could innovate on a static product like golf clothing, I could be disruptive enough to build a niche in the industry. We’re driven by the innovative spirit and work ethic of Silicon Valley and with a bit of luck we hope to improve the way golfers think and perform. We’re ecstatic that our products have been received so well.
GT: Your website mentions that it is “conceived by and designed for competitive golfers”. Is there a particular handicap range that will benefit the most from State Apparel? How can State Apparel help these golfers to take their games to the next level?
JY: Although we’ve been inspired by the best golfers in the world, the beauty of golf’s handicap system is that we can all compete on a level playing field. No matter the skill level, we believe all golfers are competing on the course, whether they’re playing in a tournament, making the turn with their best round in site, or grinding out a $10 nassau with their weekend foursome. Golf’s persistent problem of water and dirt can get in the way of every golfer’s pursuit of mastery and we think golfers of all skill levels and handicaps can use STATE APPAREL to play their best.
Taking their game to the next level will mean different things to different golfers. Ultimately, score is the best way to measure performance, and higher handicaps that use STATE APPAREL to keep their clubs clean may experience more consistent contact and better scores. For lower handicap players that have a finely tuned game, improvements may not be as measurable. Top players can use STATE APPAREL to quickly clean their clubs on the spot and maintain focus on the shot. Whether it’s a more efficient round or less fatigue, the added mental clarity can boost a golf game on a variety of levels.
Golf is an amazing sport with endless avenues for improvement. STATE APPAREL is here to support the goals of every golfer.
GT: Your apparel is manufactured in San Francisco. At a time when most golf apparel is manufactured overseas, why did you decide to keep it close to home?
JY: Our company name is distilled from the Golden State of California. We grew up here and deeply appreciate the vast amount of natural beauty, resources, and diversity, as well as the innovation, individuality, and opportunity it represents. We’ve always wanted to stay true to who we are and where we’re from. As a brand, STATE APPAREL is more than just a name. It’s a STATE of mind. When it came to manufacturing, it made perfect sense to produce locally. We are fortunate to have amazing sewing facilities in San Francisco and at the end of the day it feels great to be a part of and contribute to a thriving local economy.
The apparel world is seemingly ruled by globalization, but we think there’s a consumer trend towards locally made products. For the growing number of savvy consumers, many of which are especially conscious of product origin, purchasing decisions range from authenticity, individuality, eco-impact, or social responsibility. As this trend makes its way to the golf industry, we think it will resonate with golf consumers and that our brand will be uniquely positioned to satisfy their needs.
GT: San Francisco has a rich golfing history. For people visiting from out of town, where do you recommend that they tee it up?
JY: San Francisco is an amazing golf destination! Even better, golf in the city is experiencing a reinvention, most notably with the restoration of historic Harding Park, which welcomes the WGC Match Play next year and PGA Championship in 2020. Harding Park is a must for out-of-town golfers and make sure to savor the views of Olympic Club from 14 tee and see if you can drive the green on 16 like Tiger and Daly in the 2005 WGC AmEx playoff.
I worked at Olympic Club the first year I was in San Francisco and the Lake Course is very special to me. Since the early 2000’s the course has seen a lot of changes, which helped bring the US Open back in 2012. Of course Olympic Club is private, but it’s worth trying to find a connection or friend that can get a tee time. On a clear day the view from 3 tee goes all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge.
Follow that view north and you’ll find Lincoln Park Golf Course, which is a local favorite partly because it hasn’t changed much over the years. The other reason is the epic view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the finishing holes. After the round, I recommend grabbing a stool and some old school charm at the clubhouse bar. On your way out, drive by Robin Williams’ house in Sea Cliff and pay your respects.
If you’re in town for golf, definitely get in touch with STATE APPAREL. We’re always up for a round and meeting new golfers.