Sometimes you have to take an unlikely path if you want to break into the American golf apparel market. Over the past 10 years, Thailand-based Fenix XCell has grown to be an international brand by focusing on areas outside the US. After going through the growing pains experienced by all start-ups, the brand is ready to expand into the final frontier—the United States. The US is the most competitive market for golf apparel with multiple start-ups entering the market every year. All have the goal of changing the industry and expanding its fan base.
Founded in 2008 by Michael Moir, Fenix XCell has grown steadily and expanded its footprint throughout Asia, Europe, and the United States. The brand has gained exposure in Europe by sponsoring European Tour Pros Scott Hend, Sam Brazel, and Bradley Dredge. Its highest-profile player is Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who is now playing full-time on the PGA Tour. Kiradech’s popularity has grown the past few seasons and he is known to be a fan of vibrant and colorful polos.
The company is still in its infancy in the United States and a lack of exposure in retail and green grass accounts will be the largest hurdle in gaining notoriety and a loyal following. Clothes purchased on the brand’s website receive free shipping from Thailand on orders of three items or more which eases concerns of high shipping costs. Here’s a deeper look into the company’s 2018 collection.
Big, Bold & Colorful
Fenix designs colorful polos with bold patterns and shapes. The designs and vibrant colors in its latest collection were inspired by the seasons. Through trial and error, the company has found styles that work for its mix of corporate customers and the individual wanting to stand out from the pack. The latest collection offers a nice range of plain and subtle striped polos, as well as fairly loud designs. Think of the Fenix designs as Lacoste with a sprinkling of Loudmouth mixed in for fun.
Three shirts, the Angus, Clyde, and Nevis, capture this season’s fusion of subtlety and loudness. The Angus and Clyde are new for the latest collection. Both are constructed from a 100% classic pique polyester and the heavier weight makes them best for chillier conditions. The Angus is offered in a Fiery Red, Jade, and Indigo with bold, contrasting colors. A three-button placket gives this shirt a modern spin on a traditional look. The Clyde’s three racing stripes across the chest make the shirt look fast and sporty. I preferred the Clyde for the modern design and subtle use of colors in the wide stripes.
The Nevis was definitely my favorite of the collection. Coming in four colors, it is a multipurpose stripe polo featuring a three-button placket, self-fabric collar, and button-down collar. The fabric was definitely the softest, lightest, and most versatile of the three polos. While the two other polos would be good for cooler days, the Nevis is the right piece for a 9 a.m. tee time on a 90+ degree day.
Pricing its polos south of $60 is a nice change from the northern creep we have seen across the industry in the past few years. Fenix is trying to find its niche in the market and this price point should be appealing to a large sector of the golf market.
Beware, I did find the sizing to run a bit large. While I typically wear a medium or small, I needed an extra-small in Fenix’s polos. Keep this in mind before placing that order from Thailand.
Fenix XCell is a unique alternative to the big brands found at golf retailers. If you are looking to make a bold statement, I say place an order and enjoy being the guy nobody will miss on the range. In order to break into the US market, Fenix would benefit from increased exposure on Tour. Creating intriguing and captivating marketing campaigns and developing relationships with key retailers and golf courses would go a long way, too. Exciting times await the 10-year-old company and I am confident we will see more of Fenix’s bold designs on the PGA Tour and local courses.