Graeme McDowell’s clothing line has arrived for Fall 2016 with new branding, cutting edge performance fabrics, a sportier aesthetic, and stylish lifestyle pieces.
When McDowell started the brand with Irish sportswear company Kartel in 2012, it carried the name G-Mac by Kartel. While Kartel is a heavyweight in the Irish sportswear scene, it is not as well known here in the U.S. In an effort to make a bigger push into the U.S. (its main market), the company has rebranded itself simply as G-Mac Apparel.
Along with the name change, the brand has further strengthened its commitment to the U.S. market by consolidating its business units to the United States. Not only does this position G-Mac Apparel to better serve customers with quicker delivery times, but it also allows Graeme McDowell to be even more hands-on with the product design, marketing, sales, and business development since he is based in the U.S., as well.
Having talked with PGA Tour players about their apparel, it is amazing how little involvement even the best-dressed players have in the design. This is not the case with McDowell, though. As I learned during an interview with him for a PGA Tour Style Insider article, McDowell has a true passion for clothing (and luggage) and can talk trends, colors, and fabrics better than most designers. And scripting? You guessed it. McDowell handles that, as well.
One of the pieces that has McDowell’s fingerprints all over it is the new McTech Trouser. We’ve become accustomed to seeing McDowell strolling the fairways in those luxurious wool trousers over the years, but with the warmer U.S. climate, the easy-care benefits of performance fabrics, and the more athletic nature of the game, this new technical trouser has become a go-to piece for him.
Throughout the development of the McTech Trouser, McDowell tweaked style and performance details. Besides the lighter fabric, he worked grip tape into the waistband to hold the shirt in place and reshaped the pockets and added more grip tape in the back pockets for a yardage book.
Having been a fan of the brand’s wool pants, I was unsure about a performance trouser, but G-Mac Apparel has hit a home run with the McTech. McDowell and his design team have succeeded in creating a technical trouser that possesses the same luxurious feel and sophisticated look as the wool pants. Best of all, I don’t have to worry about running the McTech to the cleaners after every round. Just put them in the washer and the dryer and they are ready to go another round. No ironing needed.
Another area where the evolution of McDowell’s wardrobe is evident is with the polo shirts. As with the McTech trousers, the polos in the Fall 2016 Collection have a more athletic vibe and feature mesh panels and performance piques for breathability.
Two of McDowell’s favorites from the collection are the McHatch and the Colt. I agree with him, but I’d also add the McNorth to the mix to round out the top three. All offer reinterpretations of iconic styles while exemplifying the new luxury plus performance philosophy of G-Mac Apparel.
The McHatch is definitely the shirt that you want to slip on for a hot and humid day. The color-blocked design is created with mesh panels on the sides, shoulders, and sleeves for ventilation, while the body is fabricated from a lightweight polyester jersey. A hallmark of G-Mac polos has always been subtle details and pops of color. The McHatch feeds into this with a contrasting inner placket and trim, inner collar stand, and piping on the cuffs. Fashionable details like the trendy spread collar, contrasting button thread, and the Corozo branding badge on the sleeve create a polished and refined look.
The Colt is another strong option for warm conditions. It is fabricated from the same technical pique that is found in the mesh panels of the McHatch for breathability and ventilation. Again, subtle details like the contrasting piping on the collar, placket, chest pocket, and shoulders offer personality while keeping the overall look clean and classic.
One reason why I have always gravitated towards G-Mac Apparel is the fact that there is a real depth, authenticity, and soul to the designs. The colors and prints in the Fall Collection were actually inspired by the journey McDowell’s ancestors made from Scotland to Northern Ireland centuries ago. Rich tones of medieval tapestries are combined with bright colors of battlefield garb and cool grays of metallic armor.
A great example of this genealogical influence is found in the McNorth Polo. Nautical instruments used by Irish and Scottish seafarers of the past inspired the microprint. The intricate pattern on the McFort Polo is reminiscent of the chainmail armor worn in battle by G-Mac’s ancestors, and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, which offers spectacular views of Northern Ireland and Scotland, inspired the print on the McCarrick Polo.
When I think about Graeme McDowell’s style, the salmon colored cardigan that he wore while capturing the 2010 U.S. Open is always the first image that pops into my head. G-Mac single-handedly brought the cardigan back to the game and the golf fashion world is better for it.
Although you will be seeing more athletic looking pullovers from the brand, knitwear is always at the heart of its collections. Its fall range of sweaters is loaded with timeless ¼-zips, v-necks, full-zips, and vests.
The showcase piece is the T-Cross, an elegant ¼-zip constructed from a soft and warm fine gauge Mercerized wool. Again, the genealogical influence can be seen in the form of a stylish jacquard print comprised of small medieval crosses.
Two of my other favorite sweaters are the 1/4-zip McArd and the full-zip Zippy. The McArd is another luxurious fine gauge Mercerized wool piece with a heavy jacquard knit texture that is perfect for the cooler months. While the T-Cross and McArd can easily be dressed up or dressed down, the cotton/cashmere Zippy offers a more laid back look that can be paired with technical trousers on the course or jeans off it. All three are finished with up-market details like leather zipper tabs, polished branding elements, and a well-tailored fit.
With pro shops creating one-stop shops for members, more golf apparel labels are producing lifestyle collections. While many of these brands are producing street wear or gym wear, G-Mac Apparel has created a collection that includes high-quality wovens and fashionable jackets. The Egyptian cotton button-down shirts with contrasting buttons and inner cuff details are versatile enough to move from the boardroom to an informal dinner on the town.
The Jack is a casual mid-weight jacket that is perfect for fall, and one that you’ll be slipping on again next spring. The Teflon coating can stand up to those cold rain showers, while the zip-away hood stores neatly in the collar or can be popped out for extra protection. From a style standpoint, the Jack looks like it just stepped off a runway at New York Fashion Week. The epaulettes on the shoulder and the chest pockets offer a chic military feel while snaps at the waist and cuffs provide a custom fit. Wear this jacket on the street, and no one will guess that it is from a golf apparel brand.
The fit of G-Mac Apparel’s shirts, pants, sweaters, and jackets make it one of the most wearable brands on the links. It is not surprising that this is another area that Graeme McDowell has personally influenced. He set out to create a cut that sat between a U.S. and a European fit – not too generous and not too slim. The small and medium sizes possess a more tailored fit with shorter, narrower sleeves and a slimmer body, while the large and extra large sizes are a bit roomier throughout. I find that the shirts and sweaters run large and I’ve been able to comfortably size down. The pants and jackets, however, run true to size.
The Fall 2016 G-Mac Apparel Collection is now available in pro shops and at FairwayStyles.com. Pick up a few pieces and enjoy this new era of sophistication.
G-Mac Apparel on the web: gmacapparel.com
G-Mac Apparel on Facebook: @GmacbyKartel
G-Mac Apparel on Twitter: @GMac_Apparel