Golfers in Korea shell out to show off their fashion on the green

Part of Philipp Plein Golf’s Spring / Summer (S / S) 2022 collection, which debuted worldwide from Korea in March [PHILIPP PLEIN GOLF]

In Korea, people who play golf not only work on their form but also work on their fashion.

Ever since the confusion surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic began to subside, people have been rushing to visit both online and offline stores to grab some golf merchandise, especially clothing and accessories.

OKmall, a local e-commerce site, revealed last week that sales of golf items were up 122% last month from the same time last year.

Sales of golf accessories such as hats and belts skyrocketed by 446%, golf apparel by 148% and golf shoes by 59%. Of golf apparel, women’s clothing increased 324%, while men’s clothing increased 130%.

Mustit, another national e-commerce mall, also said that products in their golf category were sold 17 times more in the first quarter than in the same period in 2021.

The golf merchandise was in high demand from January to March as golfers prepared for the golf season, which typically begins in the spring, Mustit said in a press release. In March alone, sales increased 26 times compared to March 2021.

Both OKmall and Mustit felt the popularity likely stems from social distancing rules being lifted, bringing more and more people outdoors.

The summer outfits of Beanpole Golf [SAMSUNG C&T CORPORATION]

The summer outfits of Beanpole Golf [SAMSUNG C&T CORPORATION]

It might come as a surprise that golf apparel is so conspicuously sought after, considering there aren’t very many golf courses in the country. According to the Korea Leisure Industry Institute (KoLe), there were 541 golf courses in Korea as of the end of 2021, occupying only about 1.4% of all golf courses in the world.

Seo Cheon-beom, head of KoLe, told the Korea JoongAng Daily that the sudden popularity of golf in Korea has recently shifted to the younger generations, especially women in their twenties. In 2019, the typical 20-year-old golfer went to a course on average 1.3 times a year – the number increased to 16.3 times in 2021.

Other factors, Seo says, include the fact that golf is a difficult sport to master, which continually draws golfers to the course in the hopes that they will see better results than before. Indoor golf, where players play golf with a screen simulator, also plays an important role as it has become more popular in Korea, making it easier for the general public to become familiar with the sport and conducting it on real courses.

So despite having a relatively low number of golf courses, the barrier to entry for learning the sport seems to have dropped. Seo said that in 2021, for the first time, Korea overtook Japan in number of golfers, with 5.64 million in Korea and 5.2 million in Japan.

Look by Basquiat Brooklyn, launched last April, as part of CJ ENM's Basquiat fashion brand series. [CJ ENM]

Look by Basquiat Brooklyn, launched last April, as part of CJ ENM’s Basquiat fashion brand series. [CJ ENM]

Last April, CJ ENM launched a premium golf apparel brand called Basquiat Brooklyn as part of its Basquiat brand series, licensed by American neo-expressionist artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988). At a press conference earlier this month, Hong Seung-wan, creative director of CJ ENM, said recent trends have shown a significant increase in women and young golfers in their 20s and 30s spending on expensive clothing. golf.

This is because these consumers want to avoid blending in with others and strive to establish their own sense of style, Hong said. Basquiat Brooklyn, which differs from its other golf apparel brand Basquiat Golf in that Brooklyn is produced in limited quantities and is priced higher, is not even sold in regular online malls or home shopping channels, to create an image. high-end brand.

Basquiat Brooklyn t-shirts range from 200,000 won ($ 154) to 300,000 won, while the pants are priced around 300,000 won.

“Basquiat Brooklyn focuses on vertical marketing,” a CJ ENM commercial officer told Korea JoongAng Daily. “The brand has opened a pop-up shop at The Hyundai Seoul [in western Seoul] and sells its products only through niche platforms, such as [domestic online retailer] Musinsa Golf. ”

The KUHO S / S 2022 capsule collection for golf clothing [SAMSUNG C&T CORPORATION]

The KUHO S / S 2022 capsule collection for golf clothing [SAMSUNG C&T CORPORATION]

Other large companies have also dived into the golf apparel scene, such as KUHO from Samsung C&T Fashion Group and Philipp Plein Golf from Shinsegae International.

KUHO first launched golf apparel in its Fall / Winter (A / W) 2021 capsule collection, but after seeing most sold out, the brand decided to keep dropping golf clothes and launched a Spring / Summer (S / S) 2022 capsule collection in February.

In March, Philipp Plein Golf, a subsidiary of the Swiss fashion brand Philipp Plein, founded by the 44-year-old designer, made its world debut in Korea. It opened its first offline store at the Gangnam branch of the Shinsegae department store in South Seoul.

Another reason Korea is emerging as a fashion mecca for golf apparel is the way golf is perceived in Korea.

“Although the US and Europe are not as keen on dressing up in golf uniforms, the situation is different in countries like Korea and Japan,” Hong said.

“In Korea, golf is perceived as a pastime that typically attracts people of higher social status,” said Seo. “People want to look good in front of others, and when you hear people complaining about how tired they are and that their shoulders hurt from golf all the time, it’s actually a subtle way of bragging. So when you play golf, people tend to think that you have become upward mobile. ”

Another look from Philipp Plein Golf S / S 2022 collection [PHILIPP PLEIN GOLF]

Another look from Philipp Plein Golf S / S 2022 collection [PHILIPP PLEIN GOLF]

“To do business, you have to look good, and to look good, people are looking for luxury designer clothes. This is why they say in Korea: ‘The more expensive the golf clothes, the better they sell,’ “said Youn Hae-sook, fashion critic and author of several books, including her latest,” Museum of fashion”.

However, this does not mean that the sales volume of golf apparel is indefinitely high either. Already in 2021, due to the pandemic, it was difficult to attract new players to sports and golf shops. Basically, now that social distancing measures have been lifted, compared to 2021, golf apparel is finally seeing growth this year.

“And when we say that golf clothes are in high demand among young people, especially women, they are not only worn when they are on the green,” Youn continued. “The new generations are more flexible with their fashion choices; they go through different kinds of styles. They want to stand out as individuals, which is why they choose to mix and match golf garments even in their normal everyday outfits ”.

These can serve as fashion statements and are not necessarily worn as a full set from top to bottom. For example, Beanpole Golf, a brand of the Samsung C&T Fashion group, paired its golf dresses for the summer season with tennis shorts and pleated skirts.

The summer outfits of Beanpole Golf [SAMSUNG C&T CORPORATION]

The summer outfits of Beanpole Golf [SAMSUNG C&T CORPORATION]

According to the National Golf Foundation (NGF), at the end of 2021 there were more than 16,000 golf courses in the United States alone. This is more golf courses nationwide than Starbucks or McDonald’s and about 42% of the golf courses in the world.

“Golf apparel is currently trending in the US as well, compared to 2020 and 2021,” said Youn. “But it is the position that is so different. Koreans have this tendency to show off their expensive clothes and how they are playing an expensive sport on social media. Likewise, golf apparel brands have begun to implement luxury brand marketing strategies, selling in small quantities at high prices. ”

BY SHIN MIN-HEE [[email protected]]