Course of Style: Riding Out The Storms

Course of Style: Riding Out The Storms

Argyle bamboo-cotton shirt from Freefall18.

With the golf business slip-sliding its way through a recession, a company with the name FreeFall might sound entirely appropriate. Industries that depend on discretionary spending for their revenues (like golf) can go into free fall during times of major economic uncertainty.

But FreeFall18, a small, hip apparel maker based in Saratoga Springs, NY (with a warehouse in California), is playing it smart while trying to find a foothold in the golf world during very challenging times. In its second season, the company makes an 11-piece golf collection, including shirts, shorts, turtlenecks, vests and jackets, with mostly classic styling. The main fabric is 70 percent bamboo and 30 percent cotton. Shirts costs from $58 to $72. According to Eva Anderson, FreeFall’s senior vice president of merchandising, the strategy has been to keep things “tight and small” in a period where “nothing is flying off the shelves.”

“It’s been remarkably challenging, but it’s an industry that always needs fresh product,” Anderson said. “The economy has given us the opportunity to analyze and move slowly and tighten things up in terms of styling. We love this industry, and we’re committed.”

The five-year old golf apparel company Quagmire has been enduring the economic times quite nicely, according to co-owner Bobby Pasternak, essentially doubling its revenues every year, including 2008-09.

“We actually had a great year last year,” Pasternak said. “We’re still in a growth state. People are willing to give us a shot, to try something different.”

The Toronto-based Quagmire is a fashion-forward golf brand with bright color-blocked shirts, hooded outerwear, plaid shorts and interesting checked trousers in the Ian Poulter spirit.

“Plaid is really in right now,” Pasternak said, adding that the inspiration comes from board sports, like skateboarding. The Quagmire line is deliberately untraditional, he said. The name Quagmire is based on the notion that its customers are not necessarily great golfers—and sometimes hit into the swamp or marsh. Hence the company motto: “Not Fit for the Fairway.”

Quagmire’s co-founders are both young guys—Pasternak is 26 and his partner, Geoff Tait is 29—and their lighthearted approach to fashion is underlined in style group names like “Dead Right,” “Wormburner” and “Hazard.” Their idea is that you don’t have to be a low handicap player to have fun, and their golf clothes can be worn from the beach to the green to the downtown scene.

Sounds like a plan.