By Woody Hochswender
Friday, June 10, 2011

His clothes may be loud and really out there, but Rickie Fowler has had a very beneficial effect on the business of Puma Golf, his apparel sponsor, according to the company's president, Bob Philion. "The relationship couldn't be better in terms of positioning," he said. "He's young. We're a young, developing brand. He has an edgy style that's completely unique."

Believe it or not, when Fowler wears one of his signature Technicolor outfits in a tournament, sales soar.

"It's an amazing amount of demand, like you wouldn't believe," Philion said, "We have hundreds of calls coming into our customer service people."

Philion added that Puma's followers on Facebook want to know where they can get what Fowler wears. His orange shirts, hats, and shoes are perfect examples.

"These are not colors every guy could wear," Philion said. "But we are starting to see strong colors in a lot of other collections."

Philion said that the saturated orange shade was Fowler's idea, not Puma's. (It's the color of Oklahoma State, the school Fowler attended.)

The now familiar "210 Monoline Flat Brim" cap with a dye-cut panther was also made to Fowler's specifications.

Philion compared the success of Puma's orange golf clothes to the white driver phenomenon at TaylorMade.

"This industry, like any apparel industry, is extremely trendy," he added. (Cobra now makes a white driver, too.)

Philion gave Fowler credit for Puma's "dramatic" business growth in golf apparel.

"Rickie being such a solid player has added a big dose of credibility," Philion said.

For the U.S. Open, Puma is making a special edition of Fowler's Cell Fusion Orange shoes (shown above), 500 pairs of which will be sold at selected retailers.

Callaway on the catwalk
Callaway Golf, known for its technically advanced clubs, held a fashion show of its golf apparel and accessories collection this week at the Sheraton Carlsbad, near the company's headquarters north of San Diego.

The presentation included some cooler, hipper Callaway clothes: slit skirts for women, graphic print shirts for men, and some interesting art prints, like a color-block pattern in which the color bleeds. Callaway calls it the "Rothko" effect, after the abstract impressionist Mark Rothko.

The company is debuting its own version of the "street" or spikeless Ecco golf shoe made famous by Fred Couples. The Callaway version is called the Del Mar, after the coastal town north of San Diego. Ashworth Golf, Couples' apparel sponsor, also recently introduced a series of casual golf shoes with names like the Encinitas, the Leucadia, and the Cardiff - all towns along the coast north of San Diego. At this rate, they're soon going to run out of surfer beach towns between Los Angeles and San Diego to name shoes after.

Apparel changes at Cleveland Golf
Talented designer Claudia Schwarz has left Cleveland-Srixon just a few seasons after the launch of the Cleveland Classics apparel line, which was intended to give the Huntington Beach-based company a higher profile in the soft-goods category. The Classics line will continue with a more "basics" approach, according to Keith Patterson, the media and public relations manager for Cleveland Golf.

"Claudia felt the company's direction wasn't the direction she wanted to go moving forward," Patterson said in an email. "She will be missed sorely by all of us."

He added that Cleveland Classics, "currently has ceased development of all new fashions ... the company will be implementing a new long-term direction focused on supporting our highly successful basics business."

Schwarz said, in a separate email, that she planned to start a design consultant business on her own.

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