The Course of Style: Invisible Threads

Wednesday January 28th, 2009
Puma Invisibonding Golf Shirt
Photo provided by Puma

In the never-ending quest for more exotic, high-technology approaches to golf apparel, Puma Golf is set to unveil its version of seamless or unstitched clothing at the PGA merchandise show in Orlando later this month.

Puma, which made a fairly late entry into the golf industry (2006), has been trying to make up ground relative to competitive sportswear giants like Nike and Adidas. (The Germany-based Puma has worldwide annual sales of about $3 billion, in third place to Adidas's $15 billion and Nike's $18 billion.) Known for its somewhat quirky sense of chic — Puma has hired British fashion terror Alexander McQueen to come up with some wild looks — the company has lately emphasized technology, like its directional "quill" spikes for golf shoes.

The newest development is a seamless fabric technology the company calls "invisibonding." An alternative to classic stitching, invisibonding welds two pieces of material together using "a light molecular bond," according to the company's literature. Similar technology has been used by the company in its soccer line.

A golf shirt made in this manner has bonded side and shoulder seams as well as an unstitched collar. Seamless garments have obvious benefits to golfers, most notably a reduction in friction and increased freedom of movement throughout the swing.

Meanwhile, the folks at Puma are thrilled that Geoff Ogilvy, their top sponsored golfer, won the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship in Hawaii last week. Many predict that the lanky Australian — who at 6'2" and 180 pounds tends to look good in everything — will win a second major this year and add glamour and visibility to the jungle cat line.

Bullish on the Golden Bear

Like a handful of golf legends, Jack Nicklaus has long had a licensed clothing collection, but until now consumers had no way of ordering the clothes directly. With 1970s-style golf clothes enjoying a vogue again — and who is more emblematic of Seventies golf than the Golden Bear? — the Jack Nicklaus Sportswear collection is now available online at jacknicklaussportswear.com Jack Nicklaus Sportswear, considered the premium brand of Nicklaus licensed apparel, is made by Hartmarx, which also makes the high-end Bobby Jones golf line. Prior to this, the Nicklaus apparel had been exclusively a wholesale business, sold only through green-grass retailers, that is, country club pro shops. If you weren't passing through, say, the pro shop at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, KY, or Muirfield Village Golf Club in Ohio, well, you were out of luck.

The Jack Nicklaus Sportswear site now includes a full selection of men's clothes as well as a special "heritage" category, which contains near line-for-line copies of items Nicklaus actually wore. The heritage collection currently consists of two items: a nice black-blue-and-white argyle sweater in merino wool, based on the one Nicklaus wore to win the British Open in 1978 (right) ($150); and a bright yellow polo shirt (Nicklaus, who was fond of bright yellow clothes, is color blind), with a 1970s-style placketed front, like the one the Golden Bear wore to win the 1986 Masters ($72). It even has a little golden bear monogram on the pocket.

Donna Karan on the Links
The award-winning fashion designer Donna Karan does not play golf, but that won't stop her from introducing her first collection of golf clothes under the DKNY label this spring.

DKNY Golf for women is a capsule collection of 40 pieces, just a toe in the water of golf fashion. It includes zippered shirts, skirts, colorful tanks and mesh jackets. The clothes range in price from $89 for a polo shirt to $190 for capri pants to $175 for a jacket.

While Ms. Karan doesn't play, it turns out the chairman and CEO of Donna Karan International, Mark Weber, is an avid golfer (11 handicap). For years, he has been eager to apply Ms. Karan's knowledge of comfort, fit and style to the golf course.

DKNY Golf will be found at country club pro shops, beginning in February.

Have a question, suggestion or news item for Woody? Send an e-mail to woody@golf.com.

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