Swannies embodies the American business story of the social media age. Design an intriguing product, gain funding on Kickstarter to manufacture it, and then go to market by promoting fun, social, laidback values.
Founded in 2015 by three guys who “genuinely love golf in a casual way,” Swannies is trying to bring hyper casualness to golf courses. The company has been inspired by the expansion of Top Golf and other new-age strategies to attract the next generation of golfers. Oversized polos and stuffy pants have been replaced by untucked easy-going polos, cotton shorts, and golf sandals.
Based in Minneapolis, Swannies was born out of the idea of putting golf spikes on sandals. After raising more than $20,000 on Kickstarter and winning the best new product at the 2015 Minnesota Golf Show, the founders began producing the sandals. Over the past 18 months, the company has strategically introduced additional products to connect with the casual golf fan. The brand’s polos and outerwear are sold at more than 250 courses across the country and on the company’s website.
Rather than concentrating on the latest technology, the brand is focused on affordability and the fun experiences of hitting the course with friends. The full line of polos and outwear are priced below what you typically find for golf apparel. The fall collection is good for a laidback round or a casual Friday at the office.
Driving Growth Through the Swannies Lifestyle
To connect with their target demographic, Swannies has created a series of ‘Party Scrambles’ to support and further develop the fun, social, and comfortable values of the company. Held across the country, and managed by Billy Casper Golf, Swannies’ outings include lawn games, adult beverages, and music. Swannies’ events and their apparel are designed to appeal to a younger demographic looking to enjoy the game in a casual, inexpensive, and fun setting.
“The events enable us to put all the tenants of Swannies together in one location,” said Swannies partner, Adam Iverson.
These events are just one way the company is trying to bring the estimated 15.5 million casual golf fans, who play less than seven times a year, back to the course. Creating new opportunities for people to discover and enjoy golf is great for the game. Top Golf, an inspiration for the Swannies events, has introduced millions of non-golfers to the sport. Even if these people are not buying clubs, full wardrobes, or joining a club, golf is being weaved into their lives in an unintimidating and positive way.
Any golf company worth their salt leads with polos and Swannies is no different. The newest shirt in the collection is the Slit Pocket Polo offered in Lagoon and Light Orange for $54.00. The shorter cut certainly feeds into the casual aesthetic that Swannies is selling. This is a polo that was designed to be worn untucked. Make sure you work in a few extra sets of crunches before slipping this on. You may be flashing some stomach when ripping a drive in this shirt. Off the course, pair it with jeans or shorts for a casual Saturday hanging out with friends. At the local muni, wear it with a slim-fitting chino or technical pant.
My favorite piece in the new collection is the Blair Quarter Zip offered in Charcoal Grey, White, and Navy for $59.00. The simple pullover is soft and the fabric is light enough for early fall and late spring days on the course. It possesses a nice combination of roominess in the shoulders and slimness through the body for a clean look
The Lakes is a new lightweight windbreaker with a rather generous fit. It can be easily layered over a polo or t-shirt in breezy conditions, and the water-resistant fabric makes it ideal for those surprise rain showers. It is offered in Charcoal Grey for $79.00 and the modern vibe makes for a nice seasonal layering piece. As someone who prefers a streamlined fit in golf jackets, the Lakes will likely get more play off the course than on it for me.
While Swannies is not reinventing the wheel, the straightforward designs help social golfers to hit the course without having to invest in a golf-specific wardrobe. The brand’s current strategy of leading with affordability and go-anywhere designs means it competes more with the J.Crews, Uniqlos, and H&M’s of the world, as opposed to the Nikes and Pumas.
Moving forward, Swannies is attempting to create a foothold in an ever-increasing crowded segment of the casual golf fashion world. It plans to continue expanding their collections to include additional polos, custom backpacks, and even a women’s line. The larger range of products will enable the company to attract additional segments of customers and help to diversify revenue streams.
Swannies has an opportunity to be the leader in the fun, chill, and social golf space. Time will tell if they have the secret sauce to succeed.