Thanks to Golf Khakis, @golfkhakis, for writing this piece and keeping us stylish.
As fall gets underway and we enter the 2020 wrap-around season, I first take a look at one of my favorite brands on earth. Imperial. Golf’s ‘Imperial Headwear renaissance’ is the kind of thing that actually gets me excited about golf fashion. On a trip to Sea Island last Christmas, who would you guess had the best hat in the pro shop? No contest, the Imperial chevron-logo rope hat, which I now wear everywhere.
At the PGA Championship at Bethpage in May, there was just one hat that stood out with style. Who made it? Imperial. Did it sell out day one? Yes. Then while at Indian Wells Golf Resort just this past week, their wall of 30 hats caught my eye and only a set of 4 hats stood out to my group: An Imperial hat with a unique vintage IWGR logo, in four different colors. Not to take this to a ridiculous level or anything, but then I recently ordered my new favorite hat from Malbon, a khaki rope-hope with a stitched navy Malbon ‘M’ on the front, and I flip it around and yep, it’s an Imperial hat. Seems insane right? But they are paying homage to the vintage golf hats of our past (check out The DNA Project), infused with updated color schemes, 2019 materials and new spins on classic logos. It’s a dangerous formula.
That’s a sliver of where we’re at in ‘19, but what else is coming? What are you picking up and wearing on the course this fall?
Of course, Erik Anders Lang could just tell you, with his new GOLFBEAST video series on Golf Channel’s newly launched ShopWithGolf.com. A fantastic new series for those completely lost out there on what the heck to wear. EAL has a bit of an upper crust, Westchester vibe, with his French-tuck (shoutout Tan France), patterned belts and Winged Foot polos. But nonetheless, Lang’s Instagram, YouTube and podcast content is what the game is looking to quench its thirst on, and he commits to his mission and style. If you’re looking for some interesting fashion ideas, definitely watch the GOLFBEAST series.
There’s also the guys over at Nation Golf, led by the hilarious Ryan Engle out in Palm Springs, who wants to take it all back to the good ole’ Rat Pack days. While on vacation someplace tropical this winter, you could golf in something Dean, Frank and Sammy would’ve worn. This look is definitely not for everyone, and the jumbo-collars can be much, but this is something new-old and fresh. A throwback, a statement. It’s not a gray polo over khaki shorts (kill me now). But this is just a microcosm of the bigger golf fashion picture: It’s changing, for the better.
The direction we need to go in is the elephant in the room – who we all know well at this point – Malbon Golf. Stephen and his Los Angeles crew have attempted to transform the way we look at how to dress on the golf course. And he has been noticed. The New York Times ran a full spread on Malbon this past June and GOLF Magazine just featured them in September’s issue. As I urgently write this from a cafe here in SoHo (like we gotta get things changed before it’s too late) I’m reminded that this brand is going to be the driver for the shift. All around me, just as it is around Stephen in L.A., I see a full takeover of streetwear and athleisure. Gen Z and its fringe generations (me, 34 years old) have taken over and re-wrote what is acceptable in sports fashion and in daily life, just as each generation has done before it.
So what is the deal this fall? Maybe skip the generic performance pants and deathly plain solid colored polo? And please skip that quarter-zip pullover track jacket. Why not throw a crewneck sweatshirt over your golf shirt on the next dry fall day? Why not subscribe to Jordan or Air Max golf shoes on-course? Why not finally go for that bold rope hat? Why not opt for a little swag, and a little more comfort at the same time? The question, as you prep for some chilly golfing months upcoming, is just ‘why the hell not?’ That’s what Stephen Malbon is asking. That’s what I am asking.
-Golf Khakis @golfkhakis