Eye On Apparel: Get Your Game On


Golf and tennis are both much-loved sports surrounded by loyal fans, competitive players and the latest in inspired apparel and wearables; the latter greatly influencing the athleisure retail market and trends. The two top U.S.-based tournaments for each sport in 2019—the 2019 U.S. Open Tennis Championship at the United States Tennis Association’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, New York, and the 119th U.S. Open Championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California—attracted more than one million attendees, collectively. According to the Tennis Industry Association, an additional 1.3 million people also watched the U.S. Open on ESPN and ESPN2 over a two-week period, and nearly 10.2 million tuned in to watch the final round of the U.S. Open Championship on FOX, according to FOX Sports. With millions plugged into these major games, it’s a paramount opportunity for promotional apparel and wearables to be used, worn, shared and talked about by devoted followers.

Along with following these sports and attending the tournaments, many fans also play tennis and golf. According to the National Golf Foundation, 107 million Americans, age six and older, play golf; a number that equates to 36 percent of the population. It’s also a figure that’s growing, with 2.6 million beginners hitting the course for the first time in 2018, compared with 1.5 million in 2011. The figures for tennis are lower, with the Tennis Industry Association reporting 17.9 million players worldwide; a declining figure the Bleacher Report attributed to a dwindling number of college students playing tennis, a decrease in tournaments based in the U.S. and the lack of a breakthrough male tennis star.

But even if tennis hasn’t been attracting new players in droves, it has significantly influenced fashion since its inception. In 1873, a version of tennis known as “lawn tennis” was invented by Major Walter Wingfield in Wales, UK. The sport was designed, in part, to complement women’s interest in croquet; at the time, court tennis was recognized as a male-only sport. Since both men and women could play lawn tennis together, the sport became seen as a way to meet romantic suitors, according to Time, and later inspired a new fashion category. At the time, however, comfort and mobility were sacrificed to maintain decorum. Women often wore corsets and floor-length skirts to play the game, while men wore flannel slacks and blazers. Other unusual wear also made its way to the court in subsequent years, from Spanish international tennis champion Lilí Álvarez’s fur coats in the 1920s, to Italian tennis player Lea Pericoli’s iconic tutu in 1964. Certainly—and thankfully—today tennis apparel has been transformed to garments that are relaxed, breathable and tailored specifically for the sport.

When end users reach into their closets for a go-to tennis or golf staple, ensure it’s your client’s branded tee, tank or polo they’re grabbing. By adding a logo to a sharp, traditional polo, or a breezy tennis skort, you’re displaying your client’s message to other players and fans and keeping the brand buzz going. Here are some unique ways that branded golf and tennis apparel and wearables can be used:

  • When distributed during a sporting event, branded merch can serve as a memento, as well as a way to extend the promotion for as long as the wearer sports the product.
  • By choosing a polo in a corporate color or one related to a specific promotion and customizing it for a company’s corporate golf outing, you’re ensuring the brand is represented with a sleek and professional look.
  • By selecting premium golf or tennis apparel for teamwear, you’re providing players with a cohesive and clean, branded look that’ll help them get noticed for the right reasons.
  • Branded apparel and wearables can also be used to promote the release of related products, like video games.

Just like fans’ loyalty for their favorite sports and teams, there’s no limit to the potential and reach of promotional products in the worlds of tennis and golf.

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Made for days on the course or court, the Champion Visor is made of 100-percent cotton, pre-curved with a 2.25-inch crown. Featuring the Champion logo on the back-left panel, the visor is adjustable with a tri-glide buckle closure and plenty of room to imprint a logo. Available in black, navy, white and red scarlet (shown).

Kati Sportcap  /  PPAI 113758, S5  /  www.katisportcap.com

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A game day performance cap, The Game is made from 97-percent polyester and three-percent spandex, with an unstructured, low-profile, six-panel construction. Adjustable for a custom fit, the cap features a tri-glide buckle closure with a pre-curved visor and silver under-visor. Available in 12 colors, shown in white.

Kati Sportcap  /  PPAI 113758, S5  /  www.katisportcap.com

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For a retail-inspired look that’s on trend with what the pros are rocking, the Puma Rotation Stripe Polo is perfect for the transition between course and café. Classic and conservative, the machine-washable polo is made from a moisture-wicking jersey material. Featuring the Puma logo on the left sleeve and a self-collar, the polo is available in black, peacoat, quarry and orange (shown), in men’s S-3XL.

Gold Bond, Inc.  /  PPAI 113974, S10  /  www.goldbondinc.com

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A functional item, the DRUHBELT – Ball Marker Belt Buckle with Leather Strap has an interactive element with a magnetic, domed ball marker that can be attached and removed with ease. The interchangeable buckle can also be changed out with other Druh buckles and presents a unique way to feature your client’s logo. All belts fit up to a size 42 and are available in black, grey, navy, white and brown (shown).

Gold Bond, Inc.  /  PPAI 113974, S10  /  www.goldbondinc.com

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Help end users make a statement with hyper-customized apparel. Using Kerr’s Cotton Creation’s Custom Dri-Dye process, clients’ apparel can be hand-dyed to match corporate colors or to commemorate an extra special event. It’s as simple as selecting the tie-dye design and choosing the garment. Pictured are the Custom Dyed Gildan Polo Shirts, which are available in 100-percent polyester, 100-percent cotton, or a blend, shown in lavender tranquility and navy eclipse. Available in youth XS-XL and adult S-5XL.

Kerr’s Cotton Creations, Inc.  /  PPAI 313486, S2  /  www.kerrscotton.com

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Playing outdoor sports means being prepared, especially when cool or wet weather is in the forecast. The Marmot Men’s Precip Jacket is constructed of 100-percent nylon ripstop with a full visibility roll-up hood and integral collar, and a double storm flap over zipper with a snap Velcro closure. The jacket also features angel-wing movement, permitting a full range of motion, is 100-percent seam-taped and features a lined chin guard and elastic drawcord hem. Available in black.

Chocolate Inn/Taylor & Grant/Lanco  /  PPAI 111662, S7  /  www.chocolateinn.com

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The super soft Eddie Bauer Full-Zip Fleece Jacket is perfect for any outdoor activity or excursion. Made of 12-ounce, 100-percent polyester fleece—an eco-friendly material—details include a contrast-rolled top collar, a zippered chest pocket, reverse-coil contrast zippers, front zippered pockets with tricot lining, open cuffs and an open hem, with a contrast Eddie Bauer logo embroidered on the right chest. Available in XS-4XL in navy blue (shown).

Chocolate Inn/Taylor & Grant/Lanco  /  PPAI 111662, S7  /  www.chocolateinn.com

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Clean and sharp, the Quilted Snap Pullover, available in men’s and women’s styles, is a midweight, diamond-quilted jacket that’s fit for any occasion, whether that’s outdoor sports, casual wear or for school uniforms. The 10-ounce jacket is made from 70-percent polyester and 30-percent cotton-quilted jersey, and features a polyester filling, a poplin snap placket with five metal snaps, a drop shoulder, self-fabric cuffs and a tear-away label. Available in women’s S-2XL and men’s S-3XL in black, shown in charcoal grey and navy.

J. America / PPAI 351699, S1  /  www.jamericablanks.com

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Easy to wear with an extremely soft hand, the Women’s Pima Cotton Solid Quarter-Zip Pullover is designed for both the tennis court and the golf course. Made from 100-percent Peruvian Pima cotton, a fiber that continues to soften with every wash, details include a convertible collar with interior stripes, contrast piping, clover snap buttons at the cuffs and quarter-zip with a signature zipper pull. Available in women’s XS-2XL in black, Cambridge red, flamingo, heather grey, marina, turf, white, sky blue and summer navy (shown).

Bobby Jones/Sunice  /  PPAI 240839, S4  /  www.bobbyjones.c3style.com

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To get people talking about your brand, you have to make sure it’s not only seen, but displayed front and center. The Sublimated Lycra Glove with Leather Palm allows for a vibrant logo on the back of the glove and on the glove flap so it’s near-impossible not to notice. The glove is made using fine sheepskin Cabretta leather for the palm, allowing for a secure grip, while the back of the glove is made from breathable Lycra. Available as a right or left hand—sets are not sold—in one size fits all.

Pro Golf Premiums, Inc.  /  PPAI 198935, S6  /  www.progolfpremiums.com

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Everybody needs a golf staple in the grab-and-go section of their closet. The FootJoy ProDry Performance Solid Lisle Shirt – Self Collar is that go-to option. The easy-care fabric does not wrinkle or shrink, while anti-microbial technology and ProDry stretch fabric ensure a fresh look with full movement and comfortability. Double-stitched seams provide added durability, and an extra-long back shirt tail makes it easy to keep the shirt tucked in. Available in men’s S-2XL in 16 colors, shown in white and navy/white stripe.

Pro Golf Premiums, Inc.  /  PPAI 198935, S6  /  www.progolfpremiums.com

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Tennis- and golf-inspired promotional products can also be used to increase awareness of sports-related nonprofit organizations and to support fundraising, especially at charity tournaments and games. Here are two organizations that can benefit:

American Golf Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to promoting golf and its ideals through education, charity and community service. The organization works through a team of volunteer ambassadors, who donate their time to teaching budding golfers the game, raising money for other local and national charities, and supporting golf-related programs for people of all ages. Every May, AGF partners with The First Tee, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing the game of golf and its values to youth, to raise funds through various activities.

National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL), supported by the USTA Foundation, is a network comprised of more than 350 national nonprofits that provide free or low-cost tennis education and programming to more than 200,000 under-served youth annually.

Every year before The PPAI Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Glen Holt & Fran Ford Memorial Golf Tournament is held to raise funds for the Promotional Products Education Foundation (PPEF). The tournament honors the late Glen Holt, MAS, a former PPAI board member and Hall of Fame inductee, who passed away in 2010, and Fran Ford, Jr., CAS, former president of supplier Castelli, a division of Magnet, LLC, and PPAI Hall of Fame inductee, who passed away in 2018. This year, the tournament raised nearly $50,000 for PPEF’s college scholarship program and attracted more than 120 golfers from 51 industry companies.

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Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.

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Comments (1)
rrichards@cedricspring.com
February 10, 2020
NO , tennis skirts ???
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