Greyson Clothiers was founded by Charlie Schaefer, who had worked 13 years in design for Ralph Lauren, but dreamed of creating his own brand.
He named Greyson after his daughter, with a wolf for the logo. Schaefer said his mantra for the clothing brand is those who stand up for what they believe in and know when it’s time to lead the pack.
Greyson has grown tremendously over the past few years, fusing fashion and sport and has big plans on the horizon. The brand has been championed by ambassadors like Erik van Rooyen (see our interview with him below).
We asked Schaefer a few questions regarding company growth and design.
Golfweek: Has the explosion of golf since the pandemic made it easier to find customers, or more difficult because more and more fashion stores are trying to enter space?
Charlie Schaefer: We had good growth in our customer base before COVID, so it’s hard to say if the pandemic has had an impact in both directions. The golf space has definitely experienced some saturation with many brands that have recently entered the market. I don’t think it hurts Greyson, on the contrary, the budding competition helps bring visibility to the game. It has become very clear which brands are unique and authentic. We are incredibly lucky because our customer base is deeply loyal and continues to support us as we grow.
GW: You were once high in physical stores. Obviously you still have the Detroit store but Palm Beach didn’t. Is this the wave of the future, or have you changed your outlook?
CS: Palm Beach was always meant to be temporary because it was a space for friends. It was an opportunity for us to learn and continue to refine the model. I believe brick and mortar are crucial for longevity and durability because they allow you to truly express who you are. Greysons retail plan is based on creating unique concepts where the physical store becomes a platform to experience and convey our lifestyle and message to local communities. No store will be the same… each store will be unique to its environment with an emphasis on community and engagement. Our vision has always been clear in the sense that we will not do the traditional model… we will approach each store from a curatorial perspective. We intensely value each community we enter so that we are sure to provide something unique and special. Let’s just say there are a lot of fun concepts in the near future.
GW: What obstacles do you see on the golf business horizon, and what is the biggest obstacle you have ever encountered?
CS: The biggest hurdle we’ll always face is the pace of change in sport. We have always highly respected the game, but at the same time we want to innovate and create an inviting and cool environment. I understood early on that if we do what we (really) believe in and don’t think about the “rules” that we would inevitably help create change with those who follow.
The obstacles have been huge for any start-up… raising capital, manufacturing a product, selling a product, creating models, managing cash flow, hiring a team… no obstacle is more special than the other, but with each obstacle that we have crossed, we have become stronger. For me, that’s it. I welcome obstacles because it gives us the opportunity to prove how strong we are.
GW: Do you see the brand expanding into a feminine line with its exponential growth on the men’s side?
CS: Yes. This fall, we’ll finally take care of all the women in our lives. I am incredibly excited. We have built such a strong team that I have intense confidence in this expansion.
OK, let’s move on to the clothes themselves:
GW: What was the inspiration behind some of Greyson’s most brilliant patterns and prints?
CS: Life. nature, looking beyond and drawing inspiration from what surrounds us. I am the person who looks at every piece of architecture and every tree shape. I go on trips to the park just to examine the colors of the birds. Visiting the zoo with my daughters has a hidden agenda of discovering the designs of jaguars, giraffes and peacocks. I stroll through the botanical gardens, marveling at the staghorn ferns, the delicacy of orchids and the colors of delphiniums. The inspiration around Greyson is endless because I am inspired by life.
GW: Introducing the golf jogger, were you worried that the Tour wouldn’t accept it or view it as casual pants?
CS: I didn’t care. The evolution of sport and in particular golf has known a “colorful” fashion. Panties have been in and around the game from the start. I believe the jogger is the breeches of modern times.
GW: Greyson’s hoodies usually don’t have a drawstring, do you think that helps them stay more suitable for competitive play?
CS: Yes, it was very intentional. Our designs are educated and meet the needs of the golfer. We do not have pockets on our cashmere hoodies. I believe your clothes should transcend your life and your style. By that I mean you should be able to wear the same look from the office through to dinner. By making the styles cleaner and more sophisticated, so no drawstrings or pockets, we have allowed this piece to be worn in a multitude of occasions.
GW: What sets your polo shirts apart from other companies?
CS: Everything. They are designed with a tailor-made haberdashery way, focusing on the shades of a shirt collar but created with the most innovative technological fabrics. They are basically the best combination of function and technology with a nod to men’s tailoring.
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