Thursday, April 2, 2009

Donald J. Ross Sportswear

One of the most firmly entrenched names in golf is now a startup apparel line. Anyone reading this blog knows at least some of the history of Donald Ross and can probably tell you their favorite Donald Ross course. Rob Stein and Paul Wold have put together an incredible selection of micro-poly shirts and merino wool over-shirts and are also in the logoed blazer business. I’m sure almost no one was expecting to see any new labels in Orlando; certainly not any that would excite them or hit a niche like this one does, but Rob and Paul who both have put in time with the Bobby Jones line and have resumes exemplifying good taste know what makes a knit handsome and have successfully translated that to affordable performance.


Rob, before we start talking specifically about shirts and performance let me take this opportunity to ask you the story about choosing what seems to me to be a great name for a new label?

We had become friends with the Ross family and were eventually able to convince them that using the name with the line that we would take to market would further enhance its history and reputation. Of course we also believe the name represents the quality, consistency, timelessness and simplicity of design and performance that we intended to build into the line. The ‘Donald Ross’ story is such a great immigrant story from beginning to end that everyone relates; as an American, as a human being, as well as a golfer.

I am typically not a fan of polyester shirts but found myself sending all my clients and friends to your booth at the show to see what I thought certainly were the most striking of the category and some of finest looking in general. What is it that distinguishes them from the competition?

Without speaking to or for the competition let me just say that we are all about traditional styling with high quality construction and fabrication. Take a good look at the collar, placket, buttons and yolk on the DJR product. We cut no corners. The features and benefits of good tech fabrication are not chemical treatment but intrinsically part of the poly yarn. We use micro-poly yarns which have a finer denier than most of the competition, are almost all made in Taiwan, and are very expensive at market. It is the fineness of the yarn and the gentleman’s cut that we have built the product around that provide a drape that fits more of the typical golf customer and actually aids in the moisture wicking. I think the best way to describe what we are going after with design is traditional patterns made exciting with color. We wanted to go where the competition isn’t. Of course that only works if you have a good story.

Paul, one of the great things about being new to the market place is that there is no baggage. What are your plans for distribution? Is the line intended to be primarily Green-Grass? Who do you see as your customer?

Glad you asked. We are totally green-grass. We designed the line for the traditional dresser that wants the benefits of easy care and moisture management without the high-tech look. We feel this customer has been neglected and that we have hit a niche. Golf is a classy sport with a sophisticated clientele that we feel will appreciate the cut and design of our shirts as well as the merino wool and Scottish cashmere over-shirts and sweaters that the line provides.

As you build a sales team and the volume and sell-through kick in are there plans for customer support, e.g., staff discounts, product knowledge seminars, trunk shows, POS pieces, etc?

Yes, yes, yes and yes. We want golf pros and shop managers wearing our product. We have trunk shows lined up and would enjoy doing seminars. We have POS signage we can ship with an opening order. Let me add that since we talked last we have moved our fulfillment including warehouse, embroidery and customer service to the Pinehurst area and all aspects of shipping and service will be top-drawer. We also love having a Pinehurst address.

Rob, Paul thank you for your time and for enlightening us about DJR. Is there anything you would like to add to this entry?

Yes, the launch is new, but it is the result of about two years of design, sourcing and marketing effort and we feel it is actually a good time to launch DJR in spite of all the negative talk about consumer spending because Paul and I are convinced it hits the niche we discussed incredibly well. The line provides value and styling that allows the better dresser an opportunity to get involved with tech fabric – it’s really that simple. Thanks Craig, it is always a pleasure to spend time with you.

Men’s knit shirts are the most important source of revenue in most Golf Pro Shops and one can make a case for every season showing the customer something new. This season the Donald Ross line is one you should look at before deciding what label will fit that bill. The link to their new brochure is one of the Sites to Visit. You can contact Rob Stein directly at (847) 274-4904, Paul Wold directly at (585) 704-8648 and the new company number is (910) 944-3114.