Two guys – best friends, college roommates, golf buddies – graduate and go their separate ways but stay in touch. Not an unlikely and a rather common story, right? Well, what if these two guys, one who went on to play seven years of pro golf on different tours, and the other lands in NYC to start a few fashion denim companies, rejoin decades later to create a golf apparel brand?
That’s exactly what Scott Morrison, the denim guy, and Bob Conrad, the golfer pal did a few years ago, and the like-minded impetus was a genuine interest in how the materials used to make the majority of golf clothes can unfavorably impact the environment – now known by the buzzword ‘sustainability.’
Like you, GolfThreads wants to know what sets Radmor apart from being ‘just another golf polo,’ and can they really make a difference in how we purchase, wear and think about golf clothes.
Here’s what we learned from chatting with Radmor co-founder, Scott Morrison.
GolfThreads: Tell us why/how you and Bob became concerned enough about sustainability to start your own brand?
Scott Morrison: Firstly, Janice thanks for the chat! When I got into the denim business 25 years ago, no one was talking about the environment and sustainability. But the last decade has taught us a lot – and in that decade we’ve learned a ton about being more responsible as a brand, a business, and a consumer. My last 5-6 years in denim were focused on helping clean up a really pollutant industry, and the deeper you dive into that world, you can’t really ‘unsee’ what you discover. The proliferation of chemicals in garments, single-use plastic pollution, microfiber shedding, landfill problems, fast fashion disposability, etc. the list just goes on and on. And here we are, playing golf, this incredible game – a game played on a course surrounded by nature – but we’re all wearing plastic. The same plastic – eg. Polyester – that’s contributing to many of the very same issues I listed above. So we thought, we can do better. We can create an alternative, and at the very least, we can motivate and inspire a few fellow Citizens of the Game … and so we did.
GT: We know ‘sustainability’ is a very popular current trend in all of fashion, and as much as we hope for the environment’s sake it’s a positive step, what separates ‘greenwashing’ from a genuine approach to changing how things have been done forever?
SM: The issue of ‘sustainability is complicated from the onset – as there’s no one answer to the problem. And what’s really ‘sustainable’ and from who’s perspective? So on some level, we have to rethink the term. We started out with the facts – and we applied a multifaceted approach to our sustainability mission.
Firstly, we understand that no one brand or company is going to be able to change 100+ years of consumer habits, and unfortunately throwing away old clothing is a part of our culture. On average we throw away 80 pounds of clothing waste each year in America, and most of that is polyester. Polyester is oil-based plastic, and it sits in landfills (where the vast majority of clothing waste ends up) for decades if not centuries, before being degraded into micro-plastics. We can’t control the amount of waste that’s being created, but by using natural fibers (cotton, lyocell, etc.), fibers which decompose more quickly, and less harmfully to the environment, we can help reduce some of the landfill issues created by an abundance of synthetic materials.
We’ve also introduced RAD-Cycling in our shops, so consumers can bring their garments in at the end of their useful life, and we either up-cycle by mending and repair, or recycle in order to reduce material consumption in future products. It’s a small step towards circularity, and one which creates an amazing opportunity to reduce the amount of waste being generated.
A couple additional things: Less than 10% of our materials are synthetic, and when we use a polyester or nylon in our outerwear or technical garments, we’re using only certified recycled ocean plastics (bottles) or fish-netting. Everything from our Ecom packaging to our woven labels, all are recycled and recyclable, and even our hangtags are designed to be used as a practice cup and ball marker once they’ve been removed from the garment. It’s all by design.
Of course, we also focus on other issues related to microfiber shedding, specifically in synthetics like polyester, and there’s our carbon neutrality commitment that we hold near and dear, but I’ll leave those topics for another conversation!
GT: Tell us a little about your textile and manufacturing partners and how that makes a difference in how Radmor can be successful in its ‘citizens of the game’ approach.
SM: From the onset, we knew that we needed to work with certified partners, whether it be BCI (Better Cotton Initiative), OEKO-Tex Standard, or using WRAP Certified factories … the future is about transparency and making sure that consumers feel confident that their fabrics aren’t coming from forced labor, that you’re treating your employees with dignity and respect, and that there’s an ethical and responsible business standard for all parties involved.
GT: You have caught the attention of some pretty big online retailers in a very short timeframe … Nordstrom, TrendyGolf, Fairway Styles … which we know takes a combination of hustle and relationship building. Do you think their interest in carrying Radmor is an indication of a level of commitment towards really thinking long-term about fashion’s environmental impact?
SM: 100%. I think each of those incredible partners recognize that the world is changing – and yes, it’s going to take some time, but it’s happening. Sustainability is not going to go away. It’s going to become a baseline of doing business in the near future. Of course, it goes without saying that you have to make beautiful clothing, and it’s got to have a viable point of view, but as more and more and more people discover the sport, they’re bringing with them a greater understanding and expectation around fashion and apparel brands doing their part in making the future a better place.
GT: We’re talking a lot about what Radmor products are made from, let’s hear a little about your design approach especially since you’ve come from the mainstream fashion sector.
SM: After 24 years in the denim industry, it’s exciting to be doing something different – especially in a sport I’ve loved since age 11. I think our take on design is a bit different than most in the industry as we’re free from the typical conventions – mainly that we’re not ham-stringed by any prior conception of what the golf market is, or needs, in order to be successful. We’re looking outside of golf for design inspiration, and we’re focused on making beautiful clothes that you’d feel just as confident wearing off the course as on.
GT: And the BobRad logo? What’s the story behind it, or him?
SM: BobRAD! We love the BobRad – but what most people don’t know is that he’s got a sophisticated older brother too! The official RADMOR logo is our ball+cup design, which is found under the letter ‘O’ in our brand name and on the back shoulder of many of our garments. It’s sophisticated and iconic, and we use it everywhere, especially in our ‘green-grass’ merchandise. But we also wanted something more playful, and a bit irreverent – which describes Bob Conrad perfectly – so BobRad is a reference to Bob’s nickname in college … and it’s essentially the ‘party’ version of our ball+cup concept; a bit mischievous with a lot more personality, just like Bob.
GT: In closing, tell the GolfThreads readers one thing you’d like us to remember about Radmor? What’s our takeaway?
SM: I’d tell them that you can have it all. We’re making golf and lifestyle clothing that looks fantastic on and off the course, provides ample performance, and is better for both you and the environment. Now’s the time, let’s do this!!!