At The Hackers Paradise we are always excited to review a brand we have not covered before. Fairway & Greene is by no means new to the market but they are new to THP and we are so incredibly excited to not only have the chance to review the gear but also interview the President, Andy Bell. If you walk into just about any pro shop, and especially a high end pro shop you will see Fairway & Greene. The company has always been known for extraordinary customer service and even better quality golf gear. We were given a sample of items to review and we can confidently say the quality is just as amazing as we have come to know and expect.
For the men we have three polos each with it’s own color palette and fabric. The first was the Men’s Bedford Pureformance Stripe polo in white. This one is made of a 70% cotton and 30% CoolMax Polyester for a great balance of traditional and modern technologies. This polo will keep you cool with the CoolMax Poly but looks and fits like a traditional cotton top. The second polo is an all tech material made of 94% Aerocool Polyester and 6% Spandex. There is nothing classic about this shirt but that is why most of the male reviews really liked it. Not only did they love the way the material felt, but they loved the fit and even more so the color. That tangerine color is bright and light and perfect for a spring or summer day on the golf course. The third polo is the Men’s Woolbridge Stripe Lisle in Slate. This is 100% Mercerized cotton which allows it to lay perfectly on the body but won’t be quite as cooling as the other two polos. With three totally different fabric, color, and style options Fairway & Greene managed to find a polo that made every single one of the male reviewers happy. Plus their outstanding attention to detail and high level of quality really made this polos a step above the rest.
For the ladies we had two outfits for review. The first outfit is a fun twist on an old classic, houndstooth. The top is their Ladies Mod Houndstooth Pureformance in white and was matched with a Print Stretch Golf Skort in Mod Houndstooth. It’s hard to see in pictures but this white polo is not a simple solid white top. It has the Fairway & Greene mod houndstooth pattern going all through it. The pattern adds tremendous texture and depth to the top and makes it a perfect match for the skort. I love that Fairway & Green has altered the look of traditional houndstooth and made it a more modern and edgy. The piping at the top of the skort is another great touch and truly shows the attention to detail and extra special touch that this company puts into all their apparel.
The second outfit is a complete 180 from the first. This outfit is full of color starting from the Morgan Multi Stripe Lisle top in Limeaid and finishing with the Solid Stretch Bermuda shorts in Bluejay. How can a shirt with the color description of Limeaid not be colorful? The top is made of 100% Mercerized Cotton which would normally not be as cooling as your modern day tech material but this top is ventilated. It’s not noticeable when worn but there are small ventilation holes through the top which the ladies found to be simply brilliant. The bottoms are the most beautiful shade of blue and the 92% Polyester and 8% Spandex fabric feels fantastic out on the course. The shorts are loose on the legs, sit comfortably on the waist and are a joy to wear for 18 holes and then some.
From the small sampling that we received we were very impressed with the Fairway & Greene line which was no surprised to us because they have been putting out a quality product for years. To tell us more about the brand, the clothing, and what’s in store for the future I had a chance to chat with the President, Andy Bell. Andy was an absolute pleasure to speak with and he shows such a clear passion for the apparel industry.
THP: Fairway and Greene has a long 15 year tradition of being a top notch high end apparel brand. What separates the brand from a crowded marketplace?
AB: I think our commitment to two things, quality and customer service, really have made the company stand. Plus it’s focus and dedication to the green grass professional, the golf business and uncompromising quality. If you never have to apologize for your quality then you certainly are on solid ground as you continue to move forward.
THP: With so many options for consumers do you have a recipe for success?
AB: With so many great products in the marketplace now your formula has to be 51% great product and 49% great service because it is paramount to success for anyone that is involved because people will go where they are comfortable doing business and where they appreciate the service. It’s much more than just a product there is an emotional connection to it and life is too short to deal with anything that is difficult.
THP: Fairway and Greene started as a direct to consumer brand and then switched to green grass only. How did that decision come to be?
AB: I can’t honestly speak of that because it was a decision made by the original founder, Rick Martin. I think as he got into the business and started with a direct to consumer catalog he also had a huge passion for the game of golf and I think as he exposed his relationships in the golf business to his golf professional and exposed his products to them he realized the amazing response that he was getting and realized that was really the model because he could rely on the pro and their relationships to sell his products to the end user.
THP: Fairway and Greene is known for the fabrics they use such as the Cashmere, Alpaca, Merino Wool, Linen, and Pima Cotton. In today’s rage of technical fabrics, how do those hold up and what are your thoughts on the tech fabrics?
AB: It has been an interesting evolution and we have really modified our model to integrate those new fabrics and technologies into what we do. We still have an amazing signature double mercerized cotton business but we also have a wonderful blended business in our Pureformance product which is a cotton and polyester blend and then in the last few years we have developed a pure technical business in an all polyester product. It all has the Fairway and Greene classic elegant aesthetic but are catering to people who appreciate those fabrics. The beauty of it is that technology has come so far in the use of these synthetic fibers. Climate also plays a big role regarding these fabrics. In the warmer months we see sales of these fabrics go up and in the winter we see more of the traditional cotton sales go up.
THP: You mentioned that you see an increase in sales of certain fabrics during specific seasons how about clothing types? Do you find that some areas are more inclined to carry trousers over shorts?
AB: The golf business has always been driven by shorts. The trouser business is a difficult one to be in. If you want to be in the immediate need business for selling casual chino pants you need to be in the waist size and inseam business and that is very inventory intensive for the retailer because not only do they have to stock 34” waist but now they have to stock it in three inseams. So to really be in that business it requires an inventory commitment. And if they go to an unfinished model some of the golf shops aren’t equipped with tailors and it doesn’t satisfy the immediate need that I think the clubs cater to. So it makes the trouser business a little more challenging but we have found a nice niche in that market with better dressed trousers with some lightweight wools that can make guys go from the golf course to the office.
THP: We absolutely love merino wool. It’s soft, lightweight, and not itchy. Do you see more consumers purchasing merino wool?
AB: We have certainly seen that trend too and especially in sweaters. We do a tremendous merino wool wind sweater business. We love merino for all of the things that it can do. It’s a very stable yarn, colors up well, and makes for beautiful products. It’s a real key integral part of what we do.
THP: With so many boutique brands using different cuts for their apparel, how do you describe the Fairway & Greene cut to consumers looking to purchase that have never tried the brand before? Ho would describe the fit?
AB: We have a tailored classic fit. Certainly you have to be aware in the last four or give years the whole world has migrated to a trimmer fit. For golf you obviously want it to be athletic and comfortable, but overall from an appearance standpoint it’s nice to see people wearing product that really fits them. So we are certainly not trip fit in the European sense where you see a lot of things with really short sleeves and slim through the body, but we are also not the big oversized shirts. So I think the best way to describe it is a tailored classic fit.
THP: Women are such discriminating shoppers do you find that more thought goes into the cut and fit of the ladies apparel?
AB: We are much more conscious of on the women’s side. With women there is a desire to be elegant and sexy even playing golf so I think you have to be really sensitive to those fits and it needs to be flattering.
THP: Do you consider Fairway & Greene to be golf apparel or lifestyle apparel?
AB: I think we certainly have our roots and the heritage and the DNA of the brand is golf but it very much has a lifestyle component as well. We see a lot of our products off the golf course, in the office or even at a football game on the weekend where you see Merino sweaters. I think you have to be conscious now, especially now, because people are looking to make investments in their wardrobe. The economy has been tough, times are tough, and people are watching what they are spending so people want to invest in versatile wardrobes that can cater to multiple aspects of life and it’s not just an on the golf course wardrobe because it’s not what today’s world calls for. You need things that can take you to the golf course and then take you to the office or take you to dinner, which is a challenge, but we try to provide all of those categories that would lend itself to various aspects of somebodies lifestyle.
THP: The Spring line for 2010 looks amazing and we were thrilled to see a few pieces. What is coming down the pipeline for fall that our readers should be excited about and looking forward to?
AB: I think people should expect Fairway & Greene to continue to be true to our roots, and that is in a classically elegant style product. But I also think you are going to see and injection of modern and relevant if that makes sense. So our line to walk is to be classic and true to our core consumer but also to be more modern and relevant and that is taking into account new fabrications and new silhouettes. There is a whole retro vibe that is coming. If you think Nicklaus and Palmer in their 20s and old Hollywood there is a retro, you saw some of it at the Masters, with the longer plackets and pockets on the shirts and cuts and collars. What is interesting is it’s historically an older man’s look but it’s really young. So I think you are going to see that permeate the market and also in some of the things that we do. We are really excited for Spring 2011, we have a lot new things coming, some probably unexpected.
THP: Really? Anything specific you can share with us? Any particular color palette?
AB: No, I think one of the strengths of Fairway & Greene is our broad color palette. We are fortunate enough to have a business that allows us to be broad based in our color choices which allows us to cater to a lot of different needs. I think you are going to see everything from really soft and elegant pastels as well as some really vibrant bright colors and everything in between. You can subscribe to a color service and the color service is going to say well Spring 2011 is about yellow and shades of green but if everyone of us came to market with yellows and shades of green there wouldn’t be a whole lot of options for the consumers. We pride ourselves on paying attention to the color service and what people are saying in the trends color wise but also understanding where we have been, what has been successful for us, and where we think we need to go.
THP: Can you tell us more about the Fall 2010 line?
AB: Fall has been very well received. We did a very nice job of creating transitional deliveries for fall that given the heat of the summer, you know you start to deliver fall product in June or July but it’s hotter than a firecracker everywhere you go so we are very sensitive to those color palettes and using a lot of white early and then transitioning the palette throughout the season. As we move through the season we have some beautiful traditional fall tones with great sweaters and less about short sleeve knits. I think you are going to see a great range of product again from us in fall that encompasses both very transitional summer colors as well as great fall tones.
THP: Cost is always an issue with any apparel in this economy, what should someone consider when looking at a Fairway & Greene piece and making that purchasing decision?
AB: I think cost is always an equation in value. Cost is never in and of itself the sole decision maker and if it is the sole decision maker you may regret it later. We pride ourselves on making product that is an investment that has value. So I think even in a $500 sweater you can find value if it is extremely well made with the best yarns, and the same thing in a knit. If it’s the best fabrication, the processes are the best, the trim details are the best, the sewing is the best, that shirt is going to be with you for the long haul and then there is more value there versus something that may cost you 20% less but is gone in a year.
We feel so fortunate to have had the chance to speak with Andy and we hope to chat with him again very soon. Fairway & Greene is so much more then your ordinary pro shop clothing and after speaking with Andy it’s clear how much time, effort, and love goes into this clothing company. For more information on Fairway & Greene and to see their newest catalogs you can view their website here.
Your Fashion Guru,