By Woody Hochswender
Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Dunning Sportswear, known for its traditional, preppy golf clothes, is teaming up with trendygolf.com, an online purveyor of fashionable golf apparel. Collections sold at trendygolf.com include J. Lindeberg, Puma, Q'aja Couture, and Ralph Lauren RLX, all as the name suggests, somewhat trendy lines. What gives?

Ralph Dunning, the founder of the Toronto-based Dunning Sportswear, said that his company's more fitted, classic looks have become popular with younger men, hence the move to branch out beyond its base of traditional green-grass (country-club) retailers. Trendy young guys, the reasoning goes, are somewhat less likely to belong to country clubs.

"If you look around the men's wear landscape right now, the 'trad' look is very trendy," Dunning wrote to us in an email. "Our pieces, such as the '60s-inspired Tour Slim Fit Polos with close-cut, vintage tailoring and cotton Coolmax shorts like seersucker and gingham satisfy the demand for golfers who seek this look but also want leading-edge fabric technologies."

Pedigreed classic looks have always played a role in fashion, often co-existing alongside more avant-garde styles within the same collection (or outfit). Major enterprises like Polo Ralph Lauren and J. Crew have built far-flung businesses bridging timeless style and current fashion. The world of "e-tailing," where the shopper self-determines the context according to his or her clicks, seems a logical place to merge the two.

The homepage of trendygolf.com currently opens with an interview with Zach Johnson, who wears Dunning Sportswear on tour.

Puma Restructures its Golf Operations
The Germany-based Puma AG announced Thursday that it was restructuring its North American golf business.

Puma Golf, as the company has been known, will be replaced by a new corporate entity, Puma Golf North America, which will be the official licensee for all Puma golf products and responsible for all merchandising, sales, marketing and operations in the United States and Canada. The executive team will be led by the new company's president, Ted Fletcher.

A Puma executive characterized the move as a "behind the scenes" business decision that will have little affect on Puma Golf from a consumer perspective. Since its entry into the golf market in 2006, Puma has been primarily an apparel company, making colorful, youthful, and athletic-inspired clothes. The latest exemplar of the Puma golf style is precocious young pro Rickie Fowler, who sports wild hair and affects a sort of extreme-sports personal style (Fowler is also a dirt biker). Geoff Ogilvy and Johann Edfors also are sponsored by Puma.

"Puma is committed to the golf business," said Bob Philion, the global head of Puma Golf, in a written release. "This move will take our business to new heights, strengthen our reach and focus our efforts with a core, dedicated team."

Executive changes
Lisa Wells, the director of public relations for the Bobby Jones golf clothing unit of Hartmarx, has left the company. Her job was eliminated, she said, in the wake of the ongoing restructuring of Harmarx after its Chapter 11 bankruptcy and sale.

Wells had been public relations director of the luxury group of the new company, which included the Hickey Freeman and Hart, Schaffner & Marx brands. Fiona Chiotellis, formerly the public relations executive at Jack Nicklaus, now handles publicity for both Bobby Jones and Jack Nicklaus.

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