FootJoy, the leading maker of golf shoes, socks and gloves, announced this week that, for the first time, it will begin making a complete clothing collection — shirts, trousers, sweaters, and other items — to complement its existing line of outerwear and accessories for the golf course. One of FootJoy's sponsored athletes, Steve Stricker, has quietly been wearing prototypes of the new apparel on Tour.
FootJoy has made rain gear since 1997 and introduced a three-piece layering system a year ago. But the company has until now avoided the crowded, competitive field of golf shirts, where many golf firms make their mark — literally — with their logos on television.
FootJoy, like Titleist, is a division of the Acushnet Company. Many top professional golfers use equipment made by FootJoy and Titleist (balls, clubs, gloves, shoes, etc.), but they have had to wear clothes from other sources, like, for example, the Peter Millar company, which makes classic golf clothing. In such cases, FootJoy and Titleist typically display their logos on the professional's shirt or cap, but as a result the brands do not benefit from television exposure of their own apparel. In the world of televised golf, apparel can be essentially an advertisement for itself. In the past, FootJoy and Titleist have settled for simply cross-promoting their other products.
Now for the first time, FootJoy will offer a complete range of men's apparel, using performance fabrics and features, with multiple colors and patterns in stock from season to season, according to the company's announcement. The price range for shirts will be $55 to $75. The "FJ" logo will appear on the yoke, that is, below the back collar. FootJoy clothing will begin arriving in stores in January 2012.
"This strategic initiative has been carefully considered for several years and is supported by an extremely sophisticated and comprehensive study of the golf apparel category," said Andy Jones, vice president, gloves, accessories, and apparel worldwide, for FootJoy, in a written statement.
It marks an interesting business departure for FootJoy. The Acushnet Company is in the process of being spun off by its corporate parent Fortune Brands. Analysts have said that it is unlikely that Acushnet, with its Titleist and FootJoy brands, would be acquired by another golf giant like Nike or TaylorMade-Adidas, since the resulting market share would be so huge as to raise anti-trust issues. By broadening its range of products and moving into an adjacent business, the company is probably increasing its value to a diversified conglomerate or as a stand-alone company.
Meanwhile, it is good news for golfers who enjoy and rely on the FootJoy and Titleist brands. They can now be equipped from head to toe.