Andy Bell, the president and co-founder of House of Carrington, a small but well-regarded golf apparel firm, this week was named president of the much larger Fairway & Greene/Zero Restriction, a key player in the traditional green-grass golf business.
Fairway & Greene and Zero Restriction are part of Summit Golf Brands, based in Shelton, Conn. House of Carrington, founded in 2005, is based in Hartland, Wis.
Bell, 38, is a scratch player and former junior golf all-American who regularly played against Justin Leonard, Harrison Frazar and Trip Kuehne while in high school in Plano, Texas.
"I got beat like a drum by those guys," Bell said. "I realized it was never going to be my way of making living, that I would have to get a job."
Bell, 38, worked for Polo Ralph Lauren for almost 10 years, including as national sales manager of Polo Golf, before starting House of Carrington with his older brother, Tim. His fashion point of view is determinedly classic golf style. The idea for House of Carrington, a mythical mansion overlooking the English Channel, complete with a cast of imaginary and somewhat dissolute characters (see houseofcarrington.com), came from his great-grandmother's personal journal, which makes passing mention of the Carrington name. The clothes include very classic patterns and fabrics, the kind sartorial elegance and sophistication that harken to the 1920s and '30s.
The line is somewhat similar in spirit to the Fairway & Greene collection, which features luxury fabricsPima and lisle cottons, cashmere, and alpacain traditional golf patterns. However, Fairway & Greene has about 2,500-3,500 accounts, compared to Carrington 400 or so.
"The mission with Fairway and Greene is to protect the tradition and heritage of the brand but also be modern and relevant in today's marketplace," Bell said. "We can be classic and modern at the same time."
While the outlook for luxury classic clothing has been affected by the recession, Bell is optimistic.
"The traditional golf business is holding its own," Bell said. "Advance orders for fall were very conservative for good reasons. The bright spot is that in-season reorders have been strong, which leads me to believe we have a stabilizing of the business."
The House of Carrington will continue under Tim Bell and Jared Henzlik, who has been promoted to president.