The recent explosion in Irish golf clothing brands may come as a surprise for Irish golfers… many of whom still don’t know what is available. It is all too easy to roll into a golf store, Pro shop or hop online and purchase Nike/Adidas/Under Armour/Galvin Green etc. products.
It wasn’t that long ago that the Irish golfer searching for Irish clothing was restricted to two or three brands… but the past five years – and the past two specifically – have seen a major shift: there are now at least a dozen dedicated golf clothing brands selling to an expanding market and a hungry audience. It is good news all round.
At least eight brands have come in to being since the pandemic started in early 2020. They are all small outfits of one, two or three golf-mad people. Most are still only selling online but that will probably change as awareness among the Irish golfing public (and further afield it must be said) influences golf retailers and Pro shops to stock theseproducts. The days of Irish golf clothing brands being limited to Dwyers & Co and Green Lamb are over.
No brands make their clothing in Ireland – those days are pretty much gone – so it will come as no surprise that the majority of these brands look to China/Asia to produce their products. There is one noticeable exception to this (Fia Links) and as Fia Links is the most recent brand to launch (Feb 2022) it is the first to appear on this blog. Each brand will have a separate blog.
You might also discover a few omissions from the list – e.g. the Dunnes Stores Harrington range and Druids Golf – and that’s because we are looking at brands whose focus is on golf clothing exclusively.
Fia Links (Launched February 2022)
Fia Links (www.fialinks.com) has the strongest roots in sustainability, which includes fabrics used, ethical labour and local (EU) production. Such values will be important to many golfers and it is hugely admirable at a time when Asia still offers the easiest and cheapest route. The quality is top grade and while the range is limited for now it will expand this summer with shirts and more 1/4 zips.
Here’s my Q&A with Alex Walshe, the founder of Fia Links.
When was Fia Links founded?
The business was founded in 2021, with products and manufacturer testing taking place that year before we launched to market in February 2022. It seems like a long time to do testing but I wanted to set our products apart on quality of fabrics and quality of craftmanship, something that I feel is missing in the golf apparel sector in Ireland.Who founded Fia Links?
Alex Walsh. Much like golf it’s a solo pursuit with occasional help from outside advisors.
Why was it founded? What is your ethos?
I founded Fia Links as I wanted to offer a greater choice to the golfing public and something that was missing. We have combined both the Sustainable and Performance and coined the phrase Sustainable Performance to represent our mission. We offer the choice of premium quality golf attire, suitable to wear both on and off the course, and this is our design mission. With the advent of working from home our lifestyles have changed and so did our day to day clothing. When I went to play golf it seemed silly to me that clothes weren’t interchangeable and didn’t allow for the same performance qualities needed on the golf course. For this we have designed performance into our clothes by using premium European fabrics, which provide for durability and breathability, capable of surviving wear both on and off the course.
I also noticed in other consumer sectors a move to a more sustainable approach/mindset. The traditional clothing industry is notoriously bad for the environment and for the people manufacturing the clothes. What I found is that the golf clothing industry is also posting some pretty bad scores!! At Fia Links we believe brands/manufacturers play a crucial role in addressing climate change and unfair working practices. We will not compromise on where we make our clothes or how we make them, quality is everything to us. For this all our clothes are designed in Ireland, made in Porto, Portugal using premium sustainable European fabrics and ethical labour.
It costs us extra to produce in this way but we believe it’s the right thing to do for the environment, the manufacturers and other businesses in the supply chain and, ultimately, our customers who benefit from a premium and durable product above what is on offer in the Irish market.
Our fabric choices are one of the aspects that sets us apart. For our launch products we have used a diverse range of raw materials, including
Modal. This is super soft and durable it’s made by Lenzing in Austria, and comes from the pulp of Beech trees. It is composed of natural material so it’s biodegradable and compostable under industrial, home, soil and marine conditions. It can therefore fully revert back to nature).
Organic cotton. All our cotton complies with GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) and
Polyester. Made from recycled plastics (rPES or rPET) and complies with Global Recycled Standard, the raw plastics used in the production of the Axis quarter zip are sourced from marine and post-consumer waste.
Where are you based?
Dublin. All clothes are designed in Ireland.
What date did you officially launch?
4th Feb 2022
What are the products you sell?
We sell men’s golf clothing and our design mission is a new approach in the golf industry. Our experiences with other golf clothes were that they were not interchangeable between the course and everyday life. We have designed clothes that changes this. We use premium European fabrics and keep our logo to a minimum for an understated style. We focus on comfort, durability and useability, and we have included certain comfort items as a minimum, such as softer neck tapes, printed brand labels on the neck (so nothing scratches your neck as you are trying to hole out!!). We are launching t-shirts and more 1/4 zips soon, and restocking some of our favourites from our launch range.
What is your best-selling product and how much is it?
Our best-selling product is the Sambar crewneck which is €64.95. It is made from a combination of super soft and durable Modal and organic cotton. We have designed it with raglan sleeves and added a small bit of stretch in the fabric to allow for that all important movement needed in the golf swing. Above all else we believe it’s the softest crew neck in golf!
|The Sambar crewneck|
Where are your products made?
We source all our fabrics in Europe, including Austria, Italy and Portugal, and products are then manufactured in Porto, Portugal.
Where are they available?
Presently all are sold online through www.fialinks.com , and we are presently talking to Pro shops throughout Ireland about becoming stockists.
Do you sell internationally?
Yes, we sell internationally. Shipping rates vary.
What are your next steps/goals?
Our immediate goals are to get a selection of t-shirts and 1/4 zips for summer golfers. I have adopted a modern approach to golf clothing that will suit a wide range of consumers with the inclusion of 1/4 zip blade collars and flat lock stitching on some of the items as a point of difference. I want to push our range to represent the variety of people who are now playing golf but also remain true to our mission of Sustainability. This includes hoodies and some additional twists on the golf classics.
I also want to continue to play as many golf courses throughout Ireland and document/review them on our blog. I will be writing golf course reviews and, following on with adopting a new approach, I will be tracking these golf courses’ sustainability practices. Much like the clothing industry we believe that golf courses can be points of change for the wider community in adopting a more sustainable approach.