Merriam-Webster defines the word ‘elegance’ as refined grace, tasteful richness of design, dignified gracefulness, and scientific precision, neatness, and simplicity. If you need a visual definition, though, just check out the new collections of handmade leather weekender, overnight, and golf bags from Charlotte-based start-up brand Douglas Rose.
Tasteful richness? The soft Italian calfskin leather only gets better with age.
Refined grace? The weight, strength, and brushed brass finish on the hardware have been painstakingly selected to offer the perfect blend of style, function, and masculinity.
Scientific precision, neatness, and simplicity? The bags are stylish in their simplicity. Details like the bonded nylon thread color, vintage coins, and the old world craftsmanship ooze style, class and sophistication.
Dignified gracefulness? Picture yourself hitting the road for a spring break trip with the family or weekend golf adventure with friends. Carrying a Douglas Rose bag will impress your spouse and put your buddies’ generic rollerboard suitcases to shame.
Inspired by vintage European travel and named after its founder, Douglas Rose launched in December of last year and has captured our attention in social media ever since. The brand’s first collections (Black, Cordovan, and Glovetan) are the result of collaborations with artisans in Spain and designers in New York. Each of these collections feature proper bags made from Italian calfskin leather. Three additional Sport Collections are constructed from a rugged and luxurious water-resistant waxed canvas.
“Too often in the pursuit of creating masculine goods we emphasize the strength and ignore the elegance.” – Douglas Rose
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Douglas Rose about the story behind his brand, the meticulous craftsmanship required to produce his bags, and his unique partnership with Vibram that produced one of the most beautiful golf bags ever.
Check out our discussion below and look for Douglas Rose bags at DouglasRose.co and select golf clubs across the country.
GolfThreads: Your website says, “We all have stories. What are yours?” What is the Douglas Rose story?
Douglas Rose: Douglas Rose is the merging of fashion and sport inspired by my life in NYC. My dad and his father owned a textile company and then my dad opened a sports bar in Tribeca in the early 80’s. The brand in a lot of ways celebrates both these things: beautiful design and the connectivity inherent to Sport.
GT: How would you describe your personal style?
DR: I have a couple of rules I try to follow.
1. Only buy clothes that fit perfectly.
2. Invest money in shoes/outerwear that will last a long time
3. If it feels forced, don’t wear it.
4. Cargo shorts are never a good idea.
GT: You are a huge Yankee fan. What are your first memories of the Yankees and Yankee Stadium?
DR: It was my 9th birthday (1991). The Yankees were playing the Red Sox and losing in the bottom of the 9th inning. Closer Jeff Reardon was on the mound for the Red Sox and (the great) Mell Hal hit a walk off 3 run home run into the right field seats to win the game.
This was before the Yankees were any good. I grew up watching bad Yankees teams find new ways to lose. In fact, I remember them losing a game in which Yankees pitcher Andy Hawkins pitched a no hitter…imagine that!
GT: What does the Douglas Rose owl symbolize?
DR: The owl is a symbol of wisdom and grit, two things that are very important to me. I don’t think wisdom is attained alone, but in the company of those who are wise. I much prefer to celebrate the story of connectivity, than the man who goes at it solo.
GT: Having a connection with family is very important to you. Your father and grandfather sold silks and textiles to high-fashion brands in New York. What did you learn from them that you are bringing to your business?
DR: Businesses must constantly evolve and adapt. The way they did business in the 60’s and 70’s would never work in a fast paced global economy. Success today doesn’t guarantee anything for tomorrow, so there’s never a time to sit back and feel like you have arrived.
GT: Each of your five collections features a leather weekender bag, an overnight bag, a shoe bag, and a golf bag. What was your inspiration behind the collections and why did you choose those four pieces?
DR: First, it was inspired by vintage sport. Take for instance the swing of Mickey Mantle. There was a thrashing, unleashed power to it that any guy can appreciate. I mean, his forearms were huge and his strength was astonishing, but there was also a beauty and elegance and symmetry to his swing. Too often in the pursuit of creating masculine goods we emphasize the strength and ignore the elegance. I think they are equally important and wanted to honor this.
I wanted a collection that integrated into the life of the relationally connected golfer
The overnight bag (the Stockton) is for day trips to the in-town course or overnight work trip. Whether it’s 9 holes after work with some buddies or a full 18 followed by dinner, it’s easy to imagine strolling into your home course carrying it and setting it at the foot of your locker.
The weekender (the Collier) is for weekend trips to the mountain course, to the northeast to play a bucket list course in the summer or to the south to escape the winter for a few days. It can hold a 15-inch laptop so it’s also great for longer work trips. It’s my favorite bag in the collection and I absolutely love to travel with it.
The golf bag (the James) is the quintessential carry bag. I wanted something that looked appropriate propped up against a vintage car, but also relevant for today’s modern gentleman. The bottom is part of a collaboration with Vibram that adds both durability and some unique craftsmanship.
GT: You went through several painstaking rounds of prototypes and samples until you found the materials and manufacturing facilities that met your standards. When readers buy a Douglas Rose bag, what can they expect in terms of quality and craftsmanship?
DR: I think the attention to detail is apparent the moment you first see one of the bags in person. Everything from the custom D-rings to the interior lining, to the 100-year old coin that comes in each bag, conveys that every inch of the bag has been thought for and that details matter.
But that’s not enough.
I think the intersection of great quality and attentive customer service is vital to any business, big or small. It’s not enough just to have a great bag, but to also care about your customers and making sure that they are satisfied.
GT: The James golf bag is the most elegant and beautiful carry bag I have seen. Why was it important to you to have a minimalist carry bag in your collections?
DR: Thank you. The goal of the entire collection was minimalism and elegance without compromising masculinity. The bag I wanted didn’t exist so I set out to create it. I imagined a bag that could look good going from the streets of a city, into a beautiful car and then onto a scenic golf course. Leather doesn’t have to be rugged to be masculine.
GT: Vibram is known for making some of the best soles in the shoe game, but you collaborated with them on the bottom of the James golf bag. Talk about that process and how the Vibram bottom completes the bag.
The bottom of a golf bag often takes the biggest beating. Whether the bag is set on concrete at the bag drop or being put in the damp holding area of a golf cart or wet grass, leather just wouldn’t do. When I approached Vibram about the partnership they were very excited about the opportunity to work together and it’s been a wonderful collaborative effort. They have been in business a long time and are no strangers to making quality goods. It’s fun to have the first golf bag with a Vibram bottom and I’m looking forward to growing our partnership into new areas.
GT: The Collier is the perfect accessory for a weekend golf trip with the guys. What are your favorite golf destinations?
DR: Wherever I am playing next with my three best friends. We play about 10-12 times a year together, always a best ball match, 2v2, same teams every time. We always play for dinner after the round and the press is for drinks. This year we’re keeping track of every round and the losing team at the end of the year buys the winning team a steak dinner. We have a bunch of other side bets as well that keep things interesting.
I used my Collier last weekend on a trip with these guys and our sons. The last time I used the Collier on a golfing trip was for a weekend at CCNC with these same three guys. I use a black leather Stockton every day for work and love the way it’s breaking in.