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Golf fashion takes over

Golf fashion takes over


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Golf is having a moment. With a younger, more diverse population embracing the sport as a way of life, golf may have found a fashion audience thanks to an unforeseen cultural shift that has affected almost everyone during the pandemic.

According to a National Golf Foundation February Reporttotal active participation in golf on and off the course has increased to approximately 45 million Americans, after exceeding 40 million for the first time in 2022. The 2024 report also shows record diversity, with Asian, Black and Hispanic golfers making up 23% of the total, or more than 6 million.

Interest in the sport is also getting younger and younger. TThe PGA Tour reported last year that nearly half of all golf participants were aged 6 to 34 years. The NGF report also revealed thatwomen made up 26% of all U.S. golfers in 2023.

Golf as a lifestyle

Golf apparel brands say they're seeing crossover appeal between customers who play the sport and those who simply like the look.which may indicate a growing trend and acceptance of golf as a mainstream lifestyle. The demographic shift has led to more functional fashion designed by independent brands as well as established labels such as Nike, Adidas and Under Armor.

One person is wearing a red zipped jacket.

A model wears the Under Armor Storm Daytona Full-Zip Jacket.

Courtesy of Under Armor

The key to making golf fashion cool is balancing performance and style, wrote Jocelyn Santiago, director of golf apparel at Under Armour, in an email to sister publication Fashion Dive. Today, we see more and more brands incorporating lifestyle-focused elements of golf apparel and emphasizing fashion-forward designs while maintaining functionality. If brands can do this alongside changing dress codes, we'll continue to see a wider audience embrace this style, whether or not they have a tee time that day.

Golf was growing slowly before the pandemic, but it was during the two to three years of being stuck at home that a new generation of enthusiasts took to golf courses and outdoor entertainment venues , according to the NGF.

Off-course engagement and social media have played a key role in golf's popularity and cool factor, as celebrities, athletes and content creators with significant followings boost golf's positive visibility, in especially among non-golfers. » said the NGF in its 2024 report.

Matt Daniels, co-founder of clothing brand Blackballed Golf, said the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a new wave of golfers in the sport.

Baseball player Mookie Betts wears a Blackballed Golf outfit as he swings his golf club on the putting green.

Baseball player Mookie Betts wears Blackballed Golf apparel at the 2022 Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Courtesy of Blackballed Golf

When we started the company, fashion was just starting to be considered in golf, and that's what attracted a lot of our audience to us, Daniels said. There are black people who play golf, there are other races who play golf. Our main goal is to provide young people with a way to grow in the game of golf, to grow into themselves and to be able to express themselves the way they should.

Golf's aha moment

It often takes unpredictable cultural moments for a particular style or garment to become iconic, according to Derek Guy, a menswear writer and author of the website Die Workwear.

Guy gave the example of the Adidas Samba, which was first released in 1951 and has transcended the sport of football to become a trendy, statement piece worn by a wide range of celebrities and style-conscious consumers.

Today, people who wear these shoes aren't always trying to say I play football, Guy said. Maybe they're referring to break dancers they've seen. They may be referring to a streetwear look. It's about much more than football. It represents cultural groups who took this object and gave it their own meaning.

That aha moment for any trend can come from someone with a lot of cultural capital introducing an idea or aesthetic that has been around for a long time, aAnd then all of a sudden this thing gets big, Guy said.

That's entirely possible for a golf article, Guy said. But that’s not something golf can create alone. But when you think of clothing as a sociological language, it's entirely possible for golf.

Find a new audience

A number of golf fashion brands that incorporate golf into their storytelling are promoting the game, and ultimately their brands, by reaching new audiences who may not have initially thought the game was for them.

At the end of the day, our logo is me, said Olajuwon Ajanaku, co-founder of Eastside Golf, an Atlanta-based golf apparel brand driven by diversity and youth involvement. If you look at the logo, it's a black man with jeans, a sweatshirt, a Cuban link chain, swinging the club this way, the chain the other way. He's literally in real life and saying I'm just going to be myself because I love the game.




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