‘Effortless style’ is the theme for golf fashion in 2015. The days of blinged-out, over-styled golf outfits are over. If you are looking to get on-trend this year, then Criquet Shirts’ vintage, preppy polos are for you. Made from 100% organic cotton, Criquet’s polos play as well on the first tee as they do at a cook out or the pub. In other words, they’ll make you look like a stylish Jack Nicklaus on the course, but you won’t look like a techy jacka$$ off of it.
I recently had a chance to chat with childhood friends and Criquet Shirts’ co-founders Billy Nachman and Hobson Brown about the ‘perfect polo shirt’, their new line of button-downs, poorly dressed football columnists, and the best spots in Austin for barbecue, beer and golf.
GolfThreads: Rumor has it that a couple of wardrobe tragedies — the loss of your favorite polo shirts — led to the birth of Criquet Shirts. Is this true?
Billy Nachman: Absolutely…we have definitely loved and lost. My favorite was an old golf shirt that I found in my grandfather’s closet after he passed. It was a navy, 4-button placket, hard collared shirt similar to those that Jack, Seve and Arnie used to sport back in the day. It had a coolness that none of my other golf shirts had. It was a shirt that I was as pumped to wear off the course, as I was on it. Unfortunately, my cousin Tucker was paying close attention, and with some sticky fingers, now has possession of the shirt that we both refer to as Dr. Jack!
GT: You’ve been on a quest to create the perfect polo shirt. What are the components of the perfect polo to you?
BN: The 3 major components to creating a shirt are style, material, and detail. We believe that we have found the perfect composition of the three. For the material, we have chosen 100% Certified Organic Cotton. It’s super soft and breathable, and is versatile enough for both the 18th and the 19th holes, unlike many of the performance blends. Unique and functional details, such as our removable collar stays (NO BACON COLLAR), and our deep chest pocket with a flap, are the perfect marriage of form and function. Finally, stylistically, we believe the vintage vibe of the 4-button placket golf shirt is just cooler looking than any other shirt you see on the market.
GT: Would you classify your shirts as golf shirts that can be worn off the course or polo shirts that can be worn on the course?
BN: Hmmm…great question!!! I think half of our customers would say one and the other half would say the other. We take a lot of pride in creating a product that satisfies the needs of all of our customers, whether they play everyday, are weekend warriors or just show up at the 19th hole.
GT: Vintage shirts have made a return to the fairways over the last few years. What do you attribute this to?
BN: We all know style is cyclical, so the fact that the vintage shirt has made its way back to the course is not a real surprise. That being said, I also believe that golf has a unique relationship to its history, and apparel, such as our Players Shirt, bring back memories of some of the sports greatest moments and players. Jack Nicklaus (’86 Masters), Tom Watson (’77 Open Championship), Seve Ballesteros (’79 Open Championship), Ben Crenshaw (’84 Masters)… The list goes on and on.
GT: Natural fabrics have also made a return to the game. Your shirts are made from organic cotton. What are the benefits of playing golf in natural fabrics?
BN: We have always felt that cotton shirts just feel better against the skin. They breathe better, they don’t stain or trap smells like many of the synthetic blends, and they wear and look better off the course. For us, cotton is a no-brainer.
GT: You recently expanded your range of shirts to include button downs. Talk a little bit about your button downs.
Hobson Brown: Much like our Players Shirts, our button downs are styled after the classics. We chose colors and developed patterns that we felt could stand the test of time. We chose super soft organic cotton and added some extra detailing, like a deep chest pocket with a slot for your sunglasses or pen.
They’re sweet shirts and have become a big part of our closets. Sometimes we even go super old school and wear them on the course, ala Frank Sinatra.
GT: You recently opened the Criquet Clubhouse showroom in Austin. What can Criquet customers expect from the Clubhouse experience?
HB: They can expect to get to know us personally, roll a few putts, hit a few drives (yes, we have Austin’s shortest driving range) and enjoy a few Hops and Grain ales. Oh yeah, and try on a few shirts.
Seriously, the Clubhouse has been a great way to connect with our customers and become a bigger part of the Austin community. Plus, everyone loves our Bill Murray mural.
GT: You posted an open letter to football columnist Peter King on your blog where you implored him to “ditch the dri-fit t’s” and you offered to send him five Criquet polos. What was the impetus for this letter and did he take you up on the offer?
HB: We’re glad you saw that, but sadly, Peter did not. The writer of that blog, Jeans and Ties, is a good friend of Peter’s and has become a good friend of ours, too. When we read about Peter’s situation – he wears dri-fit t-shrits and sweatpants in public for crying out loud, we tried to help him out. We’re afraid that he may be a lost cause. Sorry Peter’s wife.
GT: Austin is one of my favorite cities. What recommendations do you have for visitors? Best music? Best beer? Best barbecue? Best golf?
HB: Our first recommendation is to definitely not come in the summer. Late fall and early spring are the best times to visit.
They’re some great small hotels here – we’d recommend the San Jose Hotel which is close to the Clubhouse and right across the street from one of the greatest and most intimate music venues in the country, The Continental Club. James McMurtry, son of Texas icon Larry, has a standing gig there every midnight on Wednesday, plus another Clubhouse favorite, Ramsay Midwood, plays there pretty frequently as well.
We’d be remiss not to mention the White Horse Tavern, too. The White Horse is our favorite honky tonk and home to badass singer songwriters like Leo Randeau. They also have this eccentric cowboy dude who rides all around town on a white horse. Awesome marketing.
Best beer goes to Hops and Grain and Pinthouse Pizza. Austin has a ton of microbrews to choose from, but Hops and Grain is the only one that is located in city limits. Their taproom, the Greenhouse, is open daily and is the only place to taste one of their monthly rotating “Greenhouse IPAs”. Luckily, H&G is our Clubhouse beer sponsor, so we should have plenty on hand should anyone plan a visit.
We also highly recommend Pinthouse Pizza. It’s a brewery and wood-fired pizza restaurant with you guessed it, delicious pizza and beer. They also have Galaga and Golden Tee, which puts them over the top in our book.
If you can handle the lines, the best barbecue is Franklin’s. There’s a reason people line up for hours every morning and it sells out every day. We also like newcomer Black’s and the upstairs bar at Lambert’s, where you can catch a live show during happy hour.
The best golf goes to the private Austin Golf Club. It’s a Coore and Crenshaw design, which also happens to be Ben’s home course. That’s saying something. It’s just golf, walking only, with zero housing development on it. Soul golfing at its finest.
What’s next for Criquet Shirts?
HB: Our short-term plan is to dominate the top half of the body. Pants are overrated. We just launched three styles of organic cotton/cashmere sweaters, which have been a big hit. We’ve got awesome new Players Shirts, both short sleeve and long sleeve, coming out this spring and some surprises too.
Long term, we are aiming to create a brand that is rooted in classic styles with a progressive and fun mindset. A “Country Club Patagonia” if you will.