Fashion Q&A: Galway Bay's Terry Prillaman
Time and time again we mention how difficult it can be to look fashionable, yet functional. But we have found the guy that has seemed to conquer it all with Galway Bay Apparel. His name is Terry Prillaman, and at 58 years of age he has found his niche in the golf fashion industry, by following his passion for the game. Here is a quick Q&A we did with Prillaman.
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Tell us a little about you and how Galway Bay Apparel came to be?
• My career has been in the investment business, but I’ve always followed sports fashions. I play year-round golf and have always disliked the bulkiness of cold weather apparel. I was purchasing a pair of $250 rain pants and realized that I still had to buy slacks and long underwear. It seemed that $350 for three layers of pants was too much. I searched for golf slacks that would look nice and keep me protected from the elements, but none existed. With no experience, but hopefully a good idea, the idea was born in June 2009. With the help of numerous experts in the fashion, technical, and manufacturing world, our first products arrived in November 2010 and Galway Bay Apparel was born.
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What makes Terry “the guy” for outdoor raingear when there are Nike and Adidas brands out there that have been doing this for years?
• In many industries, true innovation is developed by individuals with a passion, as opposed to corporate scientists that put in the 9 to 5. I think my design style is more about filling in gaps or finding solutions to apparel problems rather than bringing out broad designs looking for my 5% of the apparel pie. Last year, I had one product but it was a unique product and it gathered immediate attention -- custom fit rainwear that eliminates multiple pairs of pants. This is a pretty basic concept but evidently Nike and Adidas assume everyone likes wearing three pairs of pants. Since they make all three types, why would they want to eliminate sales? As we progress, all of my designs will be about making something better than it is currently. Whether it’s about combining different fabrics for specific uses or coming up with a completely different design, I enjoy the challenge. Also, if I simply bring products similar to the major brands, I can’t hope to compete with their marketing budgets so it would be pointless for me to even try.
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What makes your product so unique?
• Pants. By combining three different fabrics, each are designed to perform a task. We were able to design one pair of slacks that would replace three. Rain pants are typically S, M, L, and XL with fixed lengths. Most people find that their rain pants are too long and too bulky. We offered traditional men’s sizes and hemable lengths. It’s nice to put on one pair of pants, wear them all day and look nice and be comfortable, too. This season, we included the “v” cut on the hem for a more tailored look.
Also, we have a “the” Jacket. Why “the” jacket you ask? By making the sleeve from one fabric and the body from another, we were able to achieve the look, fit, and flexibility we needed to accomplish a stylish, yet functional look. With many brands of jackets in the market, I would say that ours is among the lightest and most functional one can buy. Also, we’ve kept our price points in the mid-range, so our products are affordable.
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There has been quite a bit of talk about the “famous” pants you’ve created and we are quite curious about all the hype. What is the special ingredient that is making everyone flock to them?
• I think when you design something from the consumer’s perspective, it’s more appreciated. I had no idea how many other people hated bulky expensive pants and I also underestimated how many men hate that their rain-pants drag on the ground. I also don’t think that there has been a lot of thought put into making rainwear stylish. I think when we found the middle ground of appearance, fit, and utility. It excited a lot of people! Brian Katrek interviewed me on The PGA Network last season and the most gratifying thing was when I realized I was speaking to the listeners of the nation about a “pants design”. That’s amazing to me. The special ingredient is simply finding fabrics that work together to accomplish a goal. Outerwear is generally heavy, noisy, and/or stiff, and we found a way to use lighter weight fabrics in combination to achieve our goals. Lastly, since it was important for me to get feedback from as many customers as possible, I personally emailed everyone that bought pants and got their opinions, good or bad, about my product. People are very quick to tell their friends when they are happy with a product and service.
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Your website www.gbagolf.com has just gone live this week; tell us a little bit about that, the response you’ve received and can we shop on it?
• When we started last season, I was fortunate to partner with a uniform supply/manufacturing company called HPI Direct. They supplied the website last season, and while functional, it didn’t contain many of the features needed in the retail online business. With our new website, we can provide more information, more news, wholesale programs for stores, golf shops, member/guests, and Pro Ams. It is now operational, and yes, you can and should shop on it.
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Speaking of the site—we noticed that you didn’t have any Ladies options. Is this something that is in the works? Or are you focusing on Menswear for now?
• Last season I made women’s pants. They had western cut pockets and plain fronts. The women that got them, loved them (they had a slimming look versus over pants) however, they didn’t sell well. Stores wouldn’t carry them, even if the men’s pants were selling well. I concluded that retailers assume that women stay indoors all winter or don’t mind getting wet. I think, ultimately, when people realize that wearing our clothing to football games is a good idea, we will start making women’s clothing again.
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What other exciting ventures can we look forward to with the brand? Perhaps a sneak peak?
• Without opening up our lab for a tour, there are several items that are on the forefront. One is a rain shirt to be worn under our vest. Some people love to wear a vest but have to change clothing if it starts raining. We have designed a shirt that is multi-material that keeps the arms warm and dry but the body is light. We also are designing a new type of fleece lined waterproof hat. Our next design, with pants, will be an unlined version for milder temperatures, and waterproof/lined cargo pants for other outdoor activities. We’ve had a lot of interest from law enforcement to make tactical pants for outdoor work.
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Do you currently have any professionals on your roster? If so, who? If not, whom would you see as the perfect ambassador to the brand?
• That segment of the business has been interesting. We don’t pay anyone to wear our clothing but we have several players on several tours that have our apparel. They can’t wear it during a tournament because they have clothing contracts that prohibit competing logos. I’ve been asked to make apparel for tour pro’s without our logo so they can wear them. We’re not doing that. We’re always happy for anyone in the Golf Media or Professional Golf Tours (either in the US or Europe) to wear our products but the best ambassadors for Galway Bay have been customers at the club level. The PGA tour officials have been great to us, particularly Slugger White and Mark Russell. They have introduced us to tournament directors who are looking for unique Pro-Am gifts.
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Give me a scenario that you have been in on the golf course that will convince all of us to run out and buy Galway Bay immediately.
• Our current line has a fleece lining that feels great on the skin, the outer shell keeps water and wind at bay so the perfect scenario is a cold, windy, damp day that you’re going to need to spend time enduring. The comfort is incredible so if you try on a pair, we think they will be your favorite winter pants. The golf course scenario for which the line was designed is: a frost delay, but we’re going to play anyway. It’s 40 degrees, overcast, with a little wind. I put on my Galway Bay pants and jacket and I no longer care what the weather does. I wear them before, during, and after I play and no one realizes that I have on my winter rain gear.
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Last, but not least, what is the best avenue to buy your gear? Website or local vendors that carry the brand?
• The PGA Tour Superstore carries our brand in Atlanta and Denver. We’re carried in a growing number of Golf Shops so if your club carries them, shop there. The easiest avenue is to buy them online. We generally ship within 24 hours, contact the customer by email to ensure they’re happy, and offer full refunds if they’re not satisfied. We’ve yet to have a pair returned. When you’re smaller than your opponent, it’s important to be more innovative, quicker to please, and more service oriented. Developing a relationship with our customers has been thoroughly enjoyable.