Laura Cartledge discovers how an Emsworth based sports fashion business got into the swing of things.
From the diamond jumpers to the loud trousers, golf’s relationship with fashion may be more famed for its misses than its hits.
“It has gone full circle I think,” says Ben Woods. “It was very fashionable in the 70s and then in 2004 we had the impact of Ian Poulter and his union jack trousers.
“That is where I believe the pub golf trend was born, with the wacky trousers – but you look at those guys and think ‘you are getting it wrong’.”
Wanting to help people get it right, but finding it hard to source the big brands from the UK, inspired Ben and Ian McLeod to launch a solution in the form of online retailer TrendyGolf.
The Emsworth company prides itself in offering what pro shops can’t, both in terms of size range and brand variety.
“It was more out of a passion to service the golf industry rather than personal ambition,” Ben admits, adding his favourite part more than a decade on is the same thing which sparked the venture.
“I like getting the product and making the customer happy.”
So what does he think have been the catalysts for the sports stylish turn?
“Tiger Woods made it a sport, before that it was seen as a pastime. And from that comes the aesthetics, if you are getting fit and healthy you want to look good,” he replies.
“Our brand message is to be one up on the first tee. It’s that confidence you are given by dressing well.”
While the pair are now in the position where big names contact them, building the brand base hasn’t been easy.
“We contacted a lot of brands who knocked us back, saying they didn’t want to be online,” Ben says.
“But slowly and surely we got there. When the tables really turned is when Hugo Boss said ‘ok, we will look at it’.
“They thought if these big brands with big reputations are selling online perhaps we are missing a trick.”
Having originally begun to help UK customers, demand saw TrendyGolf venture stateside six years ago and last year it grew again by launching TrendySports.
Now it not only plays stockist to the ‘who’s who’ of big names, including Armani, Lacoste, Puma and Ralph Lauren, but you would be hard pressed to name a sport it can’t help kit you out for.
While Ben is tasked with the logistics it is primarily Ian who does the buying, heading to the world’s biggest trade shows to secure the best.
“The focus is now more on new brands, historically they would struggle if they didn’t have a back story but now, with the great designers and cutting edge fabrics, they are doing well,” Ben reveals. “It is that performance element.
“Kjus uses lots of stretch and makes sure you can move in the products.
“Then on the opposite side Hugo Boss and its activewear lines are offering something for every occasion with pieces which cross into loungewear.
“Dunhill is one to look out for,” he adds. “It uses lux fabrics and it is more the high end, very fashion led.”
It is clear from talking to them that discovering new things is still cause for excitement, with Ben saying deliveries are ‘almost better than Christmas’.
His personal favourite is still J.Lindeberg, the brand which he cites for inspiring the business and, as a result of a partnership, helped to get it ‘off the ground and running’.
“J.Lindeberg bought fashion into it in the early 2000s, with pinks, oranges and other bright colours making it into the collection and people were going mad for it,” enthuses Ben.
“Then the next season it stripped it all down, with blacks, greys, navy, white and tailored shirts – which made the copycats look like they were copycats.
“Golf follows fashion, if pastels are in you’ll see that reflected for example,” he adds. “Or there might be a hot colour, like burgundy.”
With fashion being an ever-changing influence, the duo admit they’ve not really had time to stop and take stock of how far the business has come.
And as this autumn/winter will be the first big season for the TrendySports side it doesn’t look like that will change soon.
“We have got to keep our finger on the pulse and make sure we have the best brands,” says Ben with a smile. “The job is not done yet.”
For more information, visit trendysports.com and trendygolf.com, which features an online magazine,
or call 0845 680 6479.
August 26, 2015 Fashion and Beauty