Talking Performance with Carnoustie’s Marshall Mancillas

Carnoustie has been creating luxurious golf apparel for more than 20 years. Known for its quality cottons, intricate jacquards and exceptional use of color, the brand recently added a new performance line to its product offering.

GolfThreads had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Carnoustie’s CEO, Marshall Mancillas. See what he had to say about entering the world of performance fabrics, how the game and its apparel has changed over the years, and the pieces from the brand’s Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 Collections that are must-haves.

Hogan Pullover Classic Collection
Hogan Performance Pullover

GolfThreads: Talk a little bit about the history of the Carnoustie brand. How has it evolved over the last 20 years?

Marshall Mancillas: I founded Carnoustie around 1993. I’m a golfer, and I’ve been around the game since 1960. The landscape of the golf shop started to change in the early 90s, and I saw an opportunity to come in and do a high-end line with good value. At the time jacquards were very important and we became a master of those. They were quite intricate and we found a niche on the better goods side with jacquards.

Slowly, we transitioned into stripes and fleece. Our line of fleece wear is second to none today. We make a beautiful interlocked fleece. It’s perfect for colder weather. There are other people doing this fleece product, but candidly, nobody does it the way we do from the standpoint of quality. It’s tremendously intricate. The fabric is literally cut and brushed to give it a beautiful hand. Those are skills that don’t come quickly or inexpensively, so ours is a few bucks higher than our competition, but it is the Bentley of the category.

Over the years we’ve evolved. What we do better than most people out there is that we offer merchandise groups – typically three a season. These groups really show the integration of all the product categories that we do, so that they constitute a beautiful merchandise table when the merchant buys the product. They might bring in some sweaters, fleece or other types of outerwear to go with the trousers or shirts. We take the guesswork out of it for them.

Self Collar Polo Classic Collection
Carnoustie Performance Polo and Shorts

GT: Carnoustie has been known for its cottons, but you recently launched a new performance line. Why did you decide to move into performance fabrics?

MM: We became convinced that performance was here to stay. The technology had improved to a point where we could offer beautiful garments and offer all the things that come with performance. In spring 2014, we decided to get into performance. We wanted to do it in a way that would appeal to our customer, though. We wanted something that would seamlessly work with our other products, which are elegant, timeless and classic.

We have a reputation for a great use of color, and the buzz from the performance line is coming from the color and the quality. It is not about one sleeve being a different color from the next or a funky graphic print. The performance line that we offer is a very high quality with the finest yarn, the finest gauge, the finest knitting, and the right amount of Lycra or Spandex.

The thing about performance that we have embraced is the ease of care. If you want to throw it in a suitcase or you’ve got an unexpected round the next day, you wash it, hang it up and you’re good to go.

GT: What was involved in bringing out a performance line?

MM: It was not an easy process or a short process. We studied the performance fabrications for about two years before we actually debuted a collection. It took quite a bit of time to understand what we wanted to make, where we wanted to make it, and how we wanted to make it. With the advent of some really high-quality yarn, we can construct a garment that we’re proud of. It wasn’t just addressing a trend in the market. We wanted to address it with a product that was commensurate with what we had done before, so it took some time.

Performance Polos Classic Collection
Carnoustie Performance Polos

GT: What are your favorite pieces in the performance collection?

MM: One of my favorites is a printed piece, which almost resembles a fine gentleman’s tie. We’ve used some printing technology to do some very handsome, gentlemanly prints that resemble fine neckwear.

Another one of my favorites is our diagonal solid. In solids, you’ll see jersey and you’ll see piqué. We have come up with this diagonal fabric. It’s a jacquard, but it has a diagonal texture to it. It has a little more weight, a little more substance. It looks much dressier than a typical jersey polo, and it is perfect for wearing under a sport coat.

Lastly, there’s the Hogan performance outerwear. It has a beautiful, high-quality jersey fabrication with a terry back. We do it in vests, ¼-zips and pullovers for fall. We’re going to do it in a full-zip jacket, too. These are great pieces that can take you from 55 to 65 degrees.

Hogan Pullover Classic Collection
Hogan Performance Pullover

GT: How have the demands from buyers and golf consumers changed over the years, especially the last 10 or 15 years where we’ve seen a fashion renaissance in the game of golf?

MM: One thing that cannot be denied is our sport is more athletic than ever, and I think form follows function. If you want to compete, you’re in the gym. You’re stronger than ever. You’re more fit. Those days of the Jimmy Demarets throwing a couple back and playing a trumpet the night before a final round are gone.

Players demand comfort, but they want it without big, baggy clothing. That means they want flexibility in their clothing. That’s why there isn’t anything we do today on the performance side that doesn’t involve stretch or the ability of the fabric to move with the player.

There was a day when a short-sleeved polo would fit you on the forearm because sleeves were that long. Today, they’re 3-4 inches shorter than that. That’s huge. There are little ways that we can have our customer look contemporary without having him make such a drastic change in how the garment fits. By adding a straight collar or a self-fabric collar, by shortening sleeves, by changing certain little things, we can greatly affect and convey a modern look.

GT: Looking forward to Spring 2016, what are you excited about in the collection?

MM: We will introduce a waterproof performance outerwear piece for the first time. It’s lightweight, flexible and packable. We found a very good fabric, and we’ve bonded it with a waterproofing fabrication that adheres to the body. It’s a nice, lightweight, flexible piece that is perfect for early spring, a little chill or a late nine. Typically, outerwear is black or gray or white with navy, but what really makes ours different is the fact that it’s colored into the collection. It’s been so well received that my reps are pushing me to expand that whole category.

Carnoustie Performance Polos

GT: Carnoustie is known for using and balancing color very well. What color stories do you have for Spring 2016?

MM: Color for color’s sake is no good. The skill is in introducing color that’s palatable and nice. Less is always more. It seems like understated wins the day, and that’s what we tend to be skillful at. Our colors for spring are great. We did a red, white, and blue collection because it’s a Ryder Cup year, and that’s been great. We did a beautiful daiquiri green, black and yellow collection that people like because it’s very springy. Then, we did a purple and orange collection that’s perfect for some of those summer months. It just connotes fun. The color stories have been great for Spring ’16.

GT: Where can readers find Carnoustie?

MM: Let’s start online. We made quite an investment in the ability for customers to shop the current product online. Beyond the Internet, you can find Carnoustie at the best country clubs and the better golf resorts — from Bandon Dunes to Pebble Beach to Pelican Hill to Doral. Price has something to do with that as your better clubs and resorts are going toward better price points, but I also think it’s taste level and the demographic of who we appeal to.

We’re not a big-box line. We’re not in golf superstores. We just don’t feel they are the right places for us. It’s odd because you can go to those places and find the best equipment, but when it comes to apparel, they tend to hover in the middle. It’s rare that you’ll see a better-end line in some of those big box stores, so we’ve stayed out of them.


Carnoustie on the web:
Carnoustie on Facebook: CarnoustieSportswear
Carnoustie on Twitter: @CarnoustieSportswear
Carnoustie on Instagram: @carnoustiesportswear

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