Friday, April 1, 2011

Made in Italy

I have the pleasure today of sitting with Chuck Brannon (President and COO) and Jeff Armstrong (Vice President of sales and Merchandising) who are the key principals launching a unique and exciting new apparel line – Golf by James Warren. As the title of this entry indicates the uniqueness of this apparel begins with the “Made in Italy” aspect but does not end there. Chuck and Jeff see the distribution as strictly better department and specialty stores as well as higher-end golf shops and resorts. The price points are considerably less than their European competition but definitely aimed at the more discerning and well dressed consumer. To quote Chuck in the press release “Our customer knows the rules of dressing well but understands when to break them.” The compelling tag line of Golf by James Warren is “because inside all of us, there’s a player” should resonate well at top shops.

Chuck, the question I’m sure you are most asked is “what was the vision for launching a new apparel brand in this economic climate?”

More than a vision was what we felt was a void. Innocently enough we couldn’t find a sports towel that we felt was made of substantial quality. Being a textile company it was easy to source our own in a high-twist cotton fabrication and the conversation turned quickly to there being the same void in better knitwear. There certainly didn’t seem to be any exclusivity with the once prestigious brands of polos and we felt that the more discerning American male would appreciate European quality and panache, designed for the changing American lifestyle and priced less than Gucci or Zegna but more than Polo. The vision, if you will, evolved over a year with all the principals here at Pem-America becoming more convinced of the validity of the niche. The launch says clearly that we think we have the first wave of product that fills that need in the marketplace.

I’ve heard you describe the business plan and in particular a very unique marketing plan Keeping in mind the limitations to the length of this interview, would you expound on the James Warren story?

The marketing plan revolves around James Warren. James represents the self-made type of customer that the line targets. He is very active, obviously well-dressed and has the type of background appropriate to design and launch “Golf by James Warren”. His father was a golf coach and teaching pro. He spent a year studying architecture at the Polytechnic institute in Milan where he became aware of Italian quality and craftsmanship. The James Warren profile dovetails perfectly with the product objectives. We feel like it will be fun to follow his exploits as the line evolves.

The business plan is to distribute to only the better men’s retailers and top golf shops. We see it as an opportunity to provide new and exclusive quality lifestyle choices at a great value to the affluent “player” who cares about his clothes. The team that has put “Golf by James Warren “ together is somewhat unique in that vision, patience, passion and financial backing all lie solidly in one place – this will allow us to be unencumbered to do the right things as we go forward.

Jeff, tell us if you would about the design concept and the consumer that James Warren shirts will appeal to and where you see the line fitting into the market place in general and golf shops more specifically.

The customer that Golf by James Warren was designed for has an active, confident lifestyle. He is very often a member at a club, is upscale and successful. He wants the best, the most tasteful and distinctive. He is looking for the versatility that only high quality apparel provides. He wants to be able to go from the golf course, to a business meeting, to a neighborhood barbecue in the same knit shirt and have people compliment it at each function. Our product is designed for the new American lifestyle in a true American fit with Italian details that are not over the top. We feel the James Warren consumer is looking for updated classics with a new twist and a bit of exclusivity.

Obviously from the title of this entry “Made in Italy” is one of the differentiators of this line, tell us about that, and any other unique features?

All of our knits have a distinctive full-fashion collar and the classic golf four-button placket. We have also developed a signature credit card/money clip pocket that when the shirt is worn in is below the waist-line. The product was developed with the appropriate attention to detail demanded by the more discerning and this carries through to buttons, labels, colors and packaging. The product is constructed from only the best and somewhat exclusive fabrications produced for us in the best of the Italian vertical knitting mills. As we mentioned this is not a European fit but a true American fit.

Are there plans for programs, trunk shows, point of sale, and how do you see the internet fueling the marketing strategy?

Once placed we will support the product with POP signage and a fit message as well as graphics if needed. We will work with shops on special events and tournaments as well as provide product knowledge and retail seminars to golf staffs. We are very cognitive of our need to truly partner with the better retailers.
We are in the process of building the James Warren web site that will eventually include his diary and a portal to a virtual showroom.

Jeff, Chuck - thank you for your time and for enlightening us about “Golf by James Warren.” Is there anything else you would like to add to this entry?

Craig we thank you for visiting with us. We are looking for ambassadors from the better shops to wear our product and help us spread the word. We are still interviewing account executives with strong apparel backgrounds in certain territories.
We welcome feedback on our product and effort and look forward to providing only the best.

The opportunity to add new and exciting high-end apparel such as “Golf by James Warren” is certainly one that the top shops looking for some exclusivity should be considering seriously. The quality and panache of such a brand and the “Made in Italy” label could easily be the next sought after name for the more particular. The luxury of the line in my mind hits a niche that currently doesn’t exist in most top shops. You can preview the line by double clicking the logo at the top of this page on the right.
The best initial contact would be Jeff Armstrong who can be reached at 646-810-3820 ext. 202 or email Jeff is a pleasure to speak with and is excited to hear from the shops that have the customer who is looking to step it up a notch and try something fresh and special.