Arnold Palmer is a legend with a capital L. His face is firmly etched onto the Mount Rushmore of golf legends. His energy and charisma transcended generations and his signature multi-colored umbrella logo is known around the world. One year since his passing, Mr. Palmer’s aura still shines brightly over the game and his legacy continues to grow thanks in part to a new apparel label that carries his name.
Introduced earlier this year, Arnold Palmer Apparel (APA) is a small symbol of Arnie’s ongoing legacy. APA does more than offer good looking, affordable polos, pants, shorts, and outerwear, though. In the spirit of Mr. Palmer’s philanthropy, all profits from the company go towards Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation, an organization which supports entities such as women’s and children’s hospitals, youth development programs, and many other worthy causes.
By donating all profits to Arnie’s Army, Arnold Palmer Apparel has gained instant credibility with retailers and consumers. The business model not only connects with golfers in an innovative way, but its impact is far-reaching for those in need.
Creating a model, similar to Paul Newman’s company, where all the profits go towards a charitable cause was the key for Mike Shea, CEO of Arnold Palmer Apparel, to get involved with the brand. It was an idea that immediately connected with the leadership at Arnold Palmer Enterprises, too.
“I went back to Arnold Palmer Enterprises and IMG and said, ‘What if we were to give all of our profits to the Arnold Palmer foundation?’ They responded positively and thought it might set a precedent for others to give to the foundation,” said Shea.
According to Shea, the charitable benefits go well beyond the money. They carry on Mr. Palmer’s legacy and the unique connection he built with his fans and the millions of people he touched through his generosity.
“The important thing it says to the golf community, to the retail community, and to golfers at large, is that Mr. Palmer was loved and revered,” said Shea. “Beyond his exploits on the golf course, his philanthropy and all the good he did in helping others is really what drove him.”
Arnold Palmer Apparel Fall 2017 Collection
Entering its second season, Arnold Palmer Apparel offers a complete line of polos, pants, shorts, outerwear, and accessories. Priced below competitors, the clothes appeal to the masses just like Mr. Palmer did during and after his time on Tour. Product distribution and availability are growing steadily as the brand gains awareness and traction in the golf fashion world.
Over the past month, I have put multiple pieces of the new Arnold Palmer Apparel Fall Collection through the paces. I’m normally skeptical when a famous athlete slaps his or her name onto a piece of clothing without being involved in the designs. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and craftsmanship of every piece I’ve worn.
The polos in the Fall Collection are offered in a myriad of solids, stripes, and patterns, and carry the names of famous golf holes, courses, trophies, and quirky golf terms. The soft technical fabrics do everything you would expect from a performance standpoint. The polyester and spandex blends provide ease of movement, the SPF 20 fabrics protect the skin from the sun, and the moisture-wicking qualities transport sweat away from the body. All of these were quite important during the recent Northern California heatwave I endured.
My favorite polo in the new collection is named after Mr. Palmer’s home course, Bay Hill. Available in five heather colorways, lime/charcoal, black/charcoal, blue/charcoal, turf, and white/charcoal, the Bay Hill offers a sporty look with classic stripes, which is sure to appeal to both traditionalists and modernists alike.
Other top picks include the Saunders and Isleworth polos. The Saunders is available in four classic colors and features a modern design with a wide heathered chest stripe. The soft, terry cloth feel reminds me of my favorite broken-in t-shirts. For the golfer who prefers a more traditional look, the Isleworth is a great go-to piece. Named after the famous golf community in Orlando, it is offered in three colors – grey, royal blue, and navy with white pencil stripes. Now if I could just get a tee time on Tiger’s former home course, I would be all set.
The cut and styling of the Arnold Palmer polos are traditional, yet modern. They will surely appeal to the golfer not wanting to squeeze into skin-tight polos or retuck their shirts after every swing. All polos are priced at an affordable $49.00 – $59.50. This is a pleasant surprise compared to many of the high-tech polos in your pro shop that require you to drop more than a Benjamin.
Pants & Shorts
As the weather turns cooler, many of us are confronted with a difficult question before a round. Do I wear pants and sweat a bit on the back nine or do I wear shorts and deal with cold legs on the front nine? As if the decision wasn’t tough enough, APA offers four styles of shorts and two styles of pants with straightforward designs, classic fits, and neutral color palettes for the season.
For those of you who are still basking in sunny skies and warm fall temperatures, the Swagger and AP Invitational Shorts are ready to take on the heat. The combination of the performance fit and active stretch fabric deliver all-day comfort. Both shorts can be easily dressed up or dressed down on or off the course. The heathered print on the Swagger provides an elevated look and a stylish texture that pairs well with nearly every polo in the collection.
If autumn’s chill is already creeping into your area, then the Hall of Fame and Citrus Classic Trousers are smart choices. Both feature the same performance fit and active stretch fabric as the shorts in the collection. With slanted front and buttoned rear pockets, the Hall of Fame Pant is as classic as they get. For those preferring a trendier look, the 5-pocket Citrus Classic Pant provides a modern aesthetic without a skinny fit.
Layers & Accessories
This time of the year is all about layers. Arnold Palmer Apparel’s Fall Collection features a full range of pullovers, sweaters, vests, and rain gear. Thanks to a lightweight fabric and golf-specific features, the Aster will find a home in many golfers’ closets this season. Sure, the heavy duty zipper may be over the top for some, but at half the price of many pullovers in the pro shop, you can’t go wrong with the Aster.
Belts are often an afterthought for many brands, but not for Arnold Palmer Apparel. The robust range of belts includes everything from timeless leather styles to canvas, braided, and webbed designs. The team at APA has done a nice job honoring Mr. Palmer through the belts in the collection. The buckles include either his signature or umbrella logo, and the logo is even stitched into the strap on the canvas belt in multiple places.
Since Arnold Palmer’s on-course exploits were before my time, I’m actually more familiar with the impact he made on the world away from the course. There are few athletes who transcended the game they played and created connections with people more than Mr. Palmer. Although his successes on the course are only told in history books today, Arnold Palmer Apparel is the latest example of how his charitable contributions continue to help those in need. Not only does the brand give golfers the ability to look good at an affordable price, but by donating profits to Arnie’s Army, it enables a small piece of Mr. Palmer’s legacy to live on inside of us.
Look for Arnold Palmer Apparel on the brand’s website, at green grass shops, and at big-box golf retailers.
by Ian Galbraith