Timeless is defined as staying fashionable as time passes. While there are many golf apparel brands that boast timeless styles, many miss the mark in one important area—fit.
Too often classic designs also come with classic fits. You know what I’m talking about— shoulder seams that fall off the shoulders, sleeves that nearly touch the elbows, and billowy bodies that flap in the wind.
On the flip side, in order to get a great fitting, high-performance shirt these days, it means sacrificing many of the more understated designs in favor of neon colors and crazy patterns. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve flipped through the shirt selections in a pro shop and wondered, “Why can’t someone make a classic looking polo that actually fits?”
This leads me to Holderness & Bourne. Every year there is one brand that unexpectedly captures my attention at the PGA Show, and this year that distinction belongs to Holderness & Bourne. Sure, it may sound more like a law firm as opposed to a golf apparel label, but the brand is filling a huge void in the golf fashion industry. Its well-tailored, classic looking polos with luxurious performance fabrics and premium details are among my favorites this spring.
Holderness & Bourne is different from other golf apparel brands because its founders, Alex Holderness and John Bourne, are not your typical apparel industry guys. The two met at Yale Business School (yeah, that Yale) and bonded over a shared passion for the aesthetics of the game and classic courses. After receiving their MBAs, working in finance gigs for a few years, and being frustrated by boxy golf shirts, they started Holderness & Bourne in 2014. For a year, the duo hit fabric mills and factories in New York City’s Garment District. They learned how to make shirts and spent their nights and weekends working on prototypes. Then in 2015, they launched their first collection, and not surprisingly, sold out of everything.
Fast forward a couple of years and Spring 2017 sees a selection of premium polos, vests, belts, hats, and bags from Holderness & Bourne. The Fairway Collection features an easy-to-wear color palette inspired by the Pacific Ocean and California coastline. The pops of aqua, tangerine, and light blues are mixed with traditional navy blues, greens, and dark reds.
Although the brand has expanded its product line, its polos remain its bread and butter. The latest collection features five distinctive designs, including everything from simple solids to elegant stripes. Each of the polos stays true to Holderness & Bourne’s DNA. They are classic, yet modern, and simple, yet sophisticated.
We live in an era when fit is king, and Holderness & Bourne has nailed every aspect of how a golf polo should fit. Say goodbye to the dreaded overhang of the shoulder seams that you get with other classic brands. Instead, the seams rest perfectly at the edge of the collarbone. The great tailoring extends to the sleeves and body. The sleeves hit the middle of the bicep and lightly hug the arm. An inch or two of fabric on either side of the stomach is ideal, and that is exactly what Holderness & Bourne delivers.
The brand also takes a unique approach to its fit and sizing. Recognizing that smaller guys may want a more tailored look and larger guys may want more room, the small and medium sizes are slimmer, while the large and extra-large sizes offer a more generous cut. I find that Holderness & Bourne shirts run true to size, so order your normal size and enjoy the razor sharp fit.
In addition to fit, every great polo shirt has a great collar. Is there anything more frustrating than washing your new golf shirt only to find that the collar looks more like a wrinkled piece of bacon than a piece of fabric? In order to avoid the ol’ bacon collar, Holderness & Bourne pulled inspiration from the hearty collars found on dress shirts. Sewn-in collar stays and well-structured fabric on the band and the collar itself eliminate any laundry day anxiety.
Not only do the Holderness & Bourne collars pull structural inspiration from dress shirts, but the cutaway design can also be traced back to dress shirts. The spread collar has become one of the biggest trends in menswear the last few years. It has wider points that are angled outwards instead of pointing down, which offers a more modern look. Holderness & Bourne is one of the first golf apparel labels to bring the spread collar to the fairways. In the process, it brings a more dressed up and fashion forward approach to the course.
Let’s face it. The golf apparel market is a crowded place. What separates the upper echelon brands from the run of the mill labels? Fabrics and details, and Holderness & Bourne doesn’t skimp on either one. Its range of polos features everything from luxurious technical fabrics to super soft cottons.
My favorite is the DryLuxe Performance Interlock found on The Sutton Polo. Sure, the polyester/Spandex blend delivers all the moisture-wicking and stretch you would expect from a modern golf shirt, but the soft hand feel will have you double checking the label to make sure it isn’t cotton. This is a great year-round fabric that drapes nicely to hide all those humps and bumps.
Another standout fabric in the collection is the DryLuxe Performance Pique, which is found on The MacDonald and The Maxwell Polos. Going shirtless at the country club is frowned upon, but wearing either of these shirts is the next best thing and totally acceptable. The fabric is incredibly lightweight and the pique weave promotes breathability and offers superb ventilation. Even the slightest breeze sends a cooling sensation through the shirt. If you live in a hot and humid climate, go ahead and stock up on these shirts for summer.
The up-market look of Holderness & Bourne’s polos is enhanced with luxurious details. For example, the genuine trocas shell buttons (also known as Mother of Pearl) come from the pearly inside of sea snail shells. These buttons have an iridescent shine that feeds into the rich aesthetic of the shirts.
There is one thing that Holderness & Bourne shirts are missing, though, and that’s branding. Sorry, you won’t find any critters, geometric shapes, or abstract designs here. Loud branding doesn’t fit with Holderness & Bourne’s minimalistic approach. The philosophy serves multiple purposes. First, it maintains the clean look of the designs. Second, it means you’ll be turning heads for all the right reasons. And third, it gives green grass shops the ability to add their own logos where they want them.
In addition to its stylish range of polos, Holderness & Bourne’s Spring 2017 Fairway Collection also includes a versatile technical vest (The Riegel), and elegant pullover (The Robbins), and a sleek webbed belt with Italian leather accents and nickel plated brass buckle (The Fischer).
The Wayfare Collection features refined and versatile bags. Whether you are getting away for the weekend or busting out of the office for a quick 18, the duffels, banker bags, shoe bags, and dopp kits will allow you to travel in fashion. Made from ballistic nylon or wool melton, each piece is finished with premium leather trim, polished nickel plated hardware and a golf course-inspired print lining.