Professional golf isn’t exactly an elegant business. While NBA athletes wear trendy looks in the pre-game tunnel, golf gear trends move slower than a 10 a.m. Sunday round at your local muni. It took 20 years for Tiger Woods’ tight-fitting shirts to finally become mainstream, and these days the best in the game are basically sportswear with collars and sneaker-like golf shoes that no longer click. in country club locker rooms.
But among a certain subset of fashion-forward amateurs, the putter head is rocking the other way: their preferred look is now more traditional, inspired by nostalgia for the days of cigarette pros like Arnold Palmer, but also the heavily wrinkled vibes. Tiger and Freddie couples from the 90s. Brands like Metalwood, Bogey Boys, Whim, Malbon and others are currently struggling to keep their retro-inspired polo shirts, pleated pants and hats in stock, but none of these upstarts has the scale to make something as technical as golf shoes. Instead, for footwear, style-conscious golfers are increasingly turning to your dad’s favorite brand, FootJoy, to add the finishing touch to their old-school cuts. For its part, FootJoy seized the moment by acting like a sneaker company, producing a wave of killer collaborations.
To see what kind of year FootJoy has had, all you have to do is watch last month’s PGA Championship playoff final. It was a win-win for the cobbler, as the two men competing for the title were a pair of his biggest young stars: the more established (and eventual tournament winner) Justin Thomas and upstart Will Zalatoris (ranked No. 7 and No. 14 worldwide, respectively), who battled it out while wearing the brand’s best-selling Premiere Series shoes, a $200 line of premium grained leather shoes that debuted in 2021. “When you think of Jordan, you think of basketball shoes. It’s the same thing [with FootJoy] when it comes to golf shoes,” says Zalatoris, who wears the FootJoy Field. The rest of the brand’s Premiere Series shoes are variations on the same idea: shoes with an iconic good looks mixed with the technological advancements brought by the wave of athletic shoes.
Many brands in FootJoy’s position would seek relevance by collaborating with the labels that have the most influence on Instagram and TikTok, but FootJoy – a company that has been doing this for over 100 years – knows its audience isn’t trying. necessarily to turn back 9 in a fit photo shoot. Instead, they’ve recently teamed up with two brands – Garrett Leight and Todd Snyder – that operate squarely in the durable, high-quality, trendless corner of the menswear world.
These partnerships aren’t exactly going to break the internet, but they’re cool enough to inspire intrigue where a golf brand needs it: clubs and foursomes. The other benefit of being the big dog is that when FootJoy decides to make a change, it’s felt almost immediately. “When we get into a particular space, we have the scale to move the market, and we’ve seen that. We’ve seen the market share go from athletics to classics, which was really driven by some of the investments we’ve made in the classic space,” says Ken LaRose, senior vice president of brand strategy and customer experience for FootJoy.