We don’t talk enough about women’s golf apparel at GolfThreads, but it is a rapidly growing part of the market. One of the trendsetters on the women’s side is Lizzie Driver. Known for its luxurious performance fabrics and fashionable prints, the label is taking a thoughtful approach to the design of its collections.
I first met Lorrie Forgatch, the co-owner of Lizzie Driver, at the PGA Fashion Show last year. She sat on a panel that I hosted for the Association of Golf Merchandisers, and I walked away thoroughly impressed with the unique and fresh point of view that she and her business partner Karen Preston are bringing to the women’s golf apparel game. I recently had an opportunity to catch up with Lorrie to talk about the inspiration behind the Lizzie Driver, top-shelf fabrics and the brand’s latest collections.
If you are one of our loyal female readers, or you are looking for a stylish holiday gift that your wife will love, then be sure to check out Lizzie Driver.
GolfThreads: What was the inspiration behind Lizzie Driver?
Lori Forgatch: We felt that we couldn’t find anything in the pro shop for women that would look appropriate to wear to work or dinner or even lunch. It all screamed, “You’re wearing your golf clothes,” so that was the basis for our business.
I know a lot of people think golf fashion for women has become very athletic. There is the Lululemon track where golf apparel brands have dialed down the yoga looks a bit. Those clothes look okay out in public, but we’re trying to take a cue from the men’s side. Women like to shop where they like to shop, but we think it’s possible for them to buy something in the pro shop that is perfectly appropriate for other places. We were looking for a way to do this, which is one reason why we have incorporated blazers and apres golf pieces into our collection.
GT: On your website, you mention that you wanted to counter the notion that golf clothes don’t have to be beautiful. What did you feel was missing in golf fashion or just not being done correctly? How is Lizzie Driver changing this?
LF: One of our big stories is our fabrics, and I think that’s where being from California is an advantage. We’re into natural fibers here. We have a lot of uber soft t-shirts compared to the rest of the country. We love the natural fibers. Many of the garments that we buy from designers like Splendid and Ella Moss are so comfortable and they are not made out of polyester. We wanted to follow the thread in a woman’s closet by taking the things she loves to wear day to day and making them look a little more consistent with the golf section of her closet. That was really our emphasis and that’s what we still strive to do.
We also understand that there are a lot of different climates that people play golf in, so we offer a selection of tech fabrics that perform better in hot weather. We have a few tech bottoms and a lot of pieces that are SPF 50+. We knew we had to respond to the tech side and to innovate in order to stay true to our vision of making these wonderful natural fibers and micro modals adaptable for golf.
GT: How to you go about sourcing, testing and selecting these fabrics?
LF: We’re fortunate to be located in Los Angeles, so we can attend the LA textile show. I was at the Paris textile show last year and I’ve been to the New York show. We are trying to find those fabrics that are soft and unique, but also have performance capabilities. We source a lot of our fabrics from those shows. We do a lot with Texollini here in Long Beach, and they manufacture for us here, too. They have the most wonderful fabrics that they weave locally.
We have fabrics from Turkey and we’ve had some from Italy. We keep saying that there’s so much quality built into each one of our pieces that people are actually getting a steal when they buy Lizzie Driver. We probably haven’t been as price conscious as we should have been when it comes to the fabrics, but when we find something that we love, and we know it performs, we have gone to great lengths to include it in the line.
GT: You’re manufacturing most of the pieces in Los Angeles, too.
LF: Yes. Almost everything. It’s been important to us and it’s been great to be able to manufacture in downtown, which is about 20 minutes from here. We are able to pop in and visit and have control over the process. It’s been so easy to have it all happening right here.
GT: Is control the main reason for manufacturing locally?
LF: That’s a lot of it. We did go overseas for a collection about two seasons ago, but we didn’t realize a huge break in our prices and we weren’t able to get the quality that we wanted. We love the factories we work with here. They are small and we know the operators and factory owners well. It’s wonderful.
GT: What are a few of your favorite pieces in your Autumn/Winter 2015 collection that would make great holiday gifts?
LF: We have a red, white and black flight for the holidays that I love. It is so crisp and clean. In that flight, we have a black and white gingham performance vest, called the Pixel. Then, one of our best sellers is the Firenze pant. It’s a Ponte de Roma cropped pant with a really graphic mosaic print. Another Ponte de Roma pant is our Chartres, which is tapered and very flattering. We also have a holiday red Empire cropped pant that’s really cute. The Escher, a large hounds-tooth black and white pullover top, is one of our best sellers from this collection, plus, we always have 3 or 4 Liberty of London pieces.
GT: What are you excited about from the upcoming Spring 2016 Collection?
LF: We have a lot of great pieces in that collection. It has a very nautical feel to it, and it’s very Americana.
The first flight was inspired by the early morning inversion layer that we experience in Southern California. This flight has some beautiful fabrics and neutral grays. We have a lot of printed skorts in the collection, too, including a graphic black and white printed skort. We also have an awesome plaid in a lightweight cotton fabric with a ton of stretch. There are a couple of Liberty of London prints in there, too.
Our middle flight is all American. It has the crisp red, white and blues of the middle of the day with a dash of pink.
The final flight features the colors of the sunset and the marine layer. We have oranges and pinks, and a little blue in there, as well. It’s really cute and the colors are great.
There is a new cotton sweater for the season. Plus, we have a woven button down shirt in each of the 3 flights. It’s just a great layering piece, the kind you put on after a round of golf. We’re offering most of our skorts in two different lengths. The shorter length is a bit sportier and appeals to a younger audience. We also have a woven tunic top that we are loving. Everybody in the office is wearing it.
Another fun piece is a top inspired by the golf club owner’s daughter in Caddyshack. She wore this beautiful Fila knit piece with vertical stripes and a red collar, so we’ve mimicked that for a little bit of a throwback.
GT: You mentioned the printed skorts as being one of the big trends in women’s golf apparel. What are some others?
LF: Women are getting smarter about SPF protection. We had our fabrics tested and they have all been rated to provide at least a moderate level of sun protection. Several pieces received 50+ ratings. Based on demand, we’ve made a long sleeve polo out of some of our best SPF fabric. It offers complete sun protection. We also have a compression shirt that a lot of women are wearing underneath other pieces, or alone, to protect the arms and the chest against the sun.
GT: 2014 Women’s Open Champion, Mo Martin and Jaye Marie Green are two LPGA Tour players who wear your apparel. How do they influence and inspire the designs?
LF: Mo, is so awesome. We’re honored to know her. She’s so great. She’s from our area. Karen Preston, my business partner, and I both attended UCLA, as did Mo. We just love her. She is a total gem of a person who’s overcome a lot to get to where she is right now in golf. She inspires us.
Our other player, Jaye Marie Green is 21. She’s young and she’s an up and comer. She’s from Florida so she’s kind of the other end of the spectrum. We take a lot of inspiration from what we see her posting on Instagram. She has a lot of videos of herself in the weight room, and she makes our skorts and shorts look amazing. We love having her in our stable, as well. She’s something else.
GT: Where can readers find Lizzie Driver?
LF: We have a list of the clubs where you can find our apparel on our website, but lizziedriver.com is the most comprehensive place to find it. We’ve spent a lot of time and energy making sure our online presence is modern and easy to use. Karen has made sure that we are right on top of every detail. We’re a very well organized company. We are quick to get things out. Lizziedriver.com is a great place to go.