Rory McIlroy has done a lot to raise the golf profile of Oakley, which made a very smart move when it signed the young Irishman to endorse its line of golf apparel. Another extremely smart (or lucky) move was signing Keegan Bradley. Between the two of them, Oakley has 50 percent of the 2011 major-winners in its stable and a strong impetus to expand its golf apparel business.
The Foothill Ranch, Calif., company recently gave a preview of what McIlroy will be wearing in upcoming tournaments, including the Masters. The 22-year-old will be decked out in stronger colors, plenty of sharp, abstract print shirts—kind of techno meets the surf look—and specially developed plaid-print golf trousers the company calls “fractured plaid.” The pattern is distressed, or fractured, in the printing process. Both McIlroy’s shirts and the plaid “Swagger” trouser employ body mapping, the strategic placement of mesh panels to facilitate ventilation and movement. Body mapping is one of the hidden trends in golf wear.
The Original Penguin, an iconic golf brand made famous by Arnold Palmer, is undergoing a revival by Munsingwear, which is part of Perry Ellis International, the licensing company. The plan is to continue producing the well-known Penguin golf shirts, including the Earl, a three-button polo with contrast detailing on the placket, but to also expand the line in what is known in the trade as a “lifestyle” direction. That is, the clothes are directed toward a young, trendy audience not necessarily associated with golf. The off-course offerings include flannel shirts, tight jeans, boots, watches, and bowties (of all things)—what the company’s creative team calls “geek chic.” All we know is, when Palmer used to make his Sunday charge wearing one of those simple Original Penguin shirts, in tan-gold, with fawn-colored gabardine trousers, it was, from the masculine perspective, about the chicest thing in the world.