Loyal GolfThreads readers know that Devereux has been one of my favorite brands over the past couple of years. I first talked with the label’s creative director, Robert Brunner, 18 months ago, as he was about to drop his debut collection. Since then, Robert participated in a panel that I hosted for the Association of Golf Merchandisers at the PGA Fashion & Demo Experience and we had the opportunity to connect at PGA Merchandise Shows.
It is difficult to believe that Robert and Devereux are about to launch their fourth collection, Paris @ Night, in just a few weeks. What isn’t difficult to believe is the success that the first three collections have experienced. The classically inspired looks with contemporary fits and details are speaking to fashion conscious golfers.
I recently had a chance to catch up with Robert and chat about Devereux’s Christina O Collection (currently in golf shops), the evolution of the brand, why his upcoming Paris @ Night Collection is “boss-esque,” and more. Check it out below.
GofThreads: Your Spring 2015 Christina O Collection is available now. The nautical theme and the light and airy color palette are refreshing for the season. What was your inspiration for this collection?
Robert Brunner: Aristotle Onassis. I’ve always liked the guy and I’m big into the history of his life. He was the overall inspiration for the collection. Even more than what he wore, I was inspired by him as a person. From there I turned to the yacht theme, the waves of the Mediterranean and Aegean seas, the countryside and Greek architecture.
SEE ALSO: Devereux: Making Waves
GT: There are several new designs in the Christina O Collection. Which ones have been the most popular?
RB: The Aristotle has been very well received. It is a unique piece in that it has a wave-inspired design across the chest. The Argo has also been a popular polo. It is a very classic piece with lots of hidden details. It has a solid body with a white hidden button down collar and self-fabric piping around the sleeves. It is a very sophisticated shirt that can go anywhere.
GT: Let’s say you are playing in the final round of your club championship. Which pieces are you wearing from the Christina O Collection?
RB: It would depend on how I was playing. If I were playing well, I’d wear bolder pieces like the Aristotle and Delphine in the apricot colorway. The Delphine is a very modern shirt and the two-color print adds a little flash. The Aristotle has the unique and eye-catching wave design. I’d pair both of them with the Prescott pant in light gray.
If I wasn’t playing well, I’d go very understated with the Brunner polo in white.
GT: The Christina O is your third collection. What has been your biggest key learnings after two years in the golf apparel industry? What has surprised you the most?
RB: How much work is involved, especially how much work is involved in the small details, like buttons, sewing and stitching. There are a lot of behind the scenes things most people don’t think about, too, like where to place the hangtags. I’m pleased at how well received Devereux has been, though.
I’ve also learned that the golf market is different than the fashion market. The most challenging and rewarding aspect of the experience so far has been educating the golf market on fashion nuances.
GT: Is that one of the reasons you started the blog, Proper Threads?
RB: With the blog, I wanted to connect and educate people on fashion, lifestyle and travel items outside the game of golf. I wanted to relate to them in other ways, like bourbon, whiskey and places to travel.
GT: How has the Devereux brand and your designs evolved over the last two years?
RB: My aesthetic remains the same – simple, classy and modern. My designs and clothing have become more professionally executed. I’m adept at using different fabrics and I’m able to piece together multiple elements in a garment. After doing this for a few years now, I also have a better vision of what the market likes and wants from golf apparel.
SEE ALSO: Spring Favorite: Devereux Prescott Pant
GT: The fact that you use a pima cotton blend in your polos allows them to easily transition to off course settings. What should people know about pima cotton before buying yet another polo made solely from polyester?
RB: The biggest thing is quality. If people are looking for a quality shirt, pima cotton is a better option. It offers a more elevated look. It is more durable, has a more luxurious hand-feel, and will experience less shrinkage after being washed. The fabrication of pima cotton is a gentler process, too, even compared to regular cotton. This leads to a better, higher quality fiber that will have a longer lifespan.
GT: Whenever we’ve talked about trends over the last couple of years, you’ve said that ‘fit’ is the biggest trend in golf apparel. Why are men more conscious of fit these days?
RB: I think it started with the health food and fitness craze. We are more educated and more aware of how to workout and how to eat healthy. People are taking CrossFit classes and wearing FitBits, which track their activity. If you are fit, you want people to know that you are busting butt in the gym and eating healthy. As a result, you can wear slimmer fitting clothes. You don’t want to be covered up by baggy clothes.
Social media also had a huge influence. There is a certain vanity that comes along with posting selfies to Instagram and Facebook. You want to look good. Social media also gives us a look at what other people around the world are wearing. Now it is easy to see the latest trends from places like Paris and Milan. Men in the U.S. see how their counterparts are dressing in Europe, and they are being influenced by the slimmer European fits.
The game of golf has changed, as well. Tiger started the fitness craze, but guys like Rory and the other young kids coming out on Tour have taken it to the next level. As a result, they wear slimmer, more fitted apparel. Granted, it needs to be tweaked a bit for the course, but the modern silhouette is much slimmer than in the past.
GT: In addition to fit, what are the other big trends we should be looking for in golf apparel heading into 2016?
RB: I’m hoping the neon trend is over! I thought it was, but it keeps coming back.
Men’s fashion is being dominated by effortless looks with subtle, rich details. Details that you don’t notice at first glance, but they elevate a look without being over the top.
Golf fashion tends to be a bit behind menswear, so I think these effortless, detailed looks will make their way to the fairways soon. The 50s and 60s Palm Springs vibe will become the trend. Obviously, Devereux’s aesthetic will fit nicely with this.
GT: Which streetwear and menswear brands have your attention these days? How are the latest runway styles influencing your designs?
RB: I’m not a huge streetwear guy. I favor more of a preppy look. For that reason Zanerobe has caught my attention. I like that they have brought streetwear to guys, like myself, who are not streetwear guys. It is streetwear for guys that shop at Nordstrom and Barney’s. I’m also into Aime Leon Dore. They have a really cool look.
From a menswear standpoint, I look to brands like Lacoste and Tommy Hilfiger. I like to blend preppy looks with sophisticated details for a cool, laid back overall style.
GT: I’ve admired that your collections seem to build on each other. The next one is even better than the previous one. Your Paris @ Night Collection for Fall 2015 was one of my favorites from the PGA Merchandise Show. Looking ahead to fall, what are you most excited about when it comes to the Paris @ Night Collection?
RB: I’m excited to see how it is received. I stayed in Paris and designed for two weeks when I created the collection, so it definitely has a European influence and is more geared towards a fashion aesthetic. The deep purples and electric blues capture the mood of the city at night.
Some of the designs are a little out there compared to traditional golf wear, but not too far out there. For example, the Devereux polo is the featured polo in the collection. It has a rounded club collar and ribbon detailing. It has a very unique design for a golf polo, but it is also very masculine. It is boss-esque!