Palmer launches 'Arnie' apparel to win new fans

'Arnie' apparel will honor the look of Arnold Palmer some 50 years ago.

With his matinee-idol looks and swashbuckling play, Arnold Palmer in his prime struck such a pose that he launched his own apparel line long before he became a legend.

More than 50 years later, the fashion statement he made back then is inspiring a whole new collection, and it very well could land the King a new generation of fans.

In fact, making the Arnold Palmer brand resonate with consumers, primarily ages 16 to 35 – who more than likely never saw him play – is the mission of Arnie, an apparel-licensing deal initiated by Arnold Palmer Enterprises. The new line features modern interpretations of styles that Palmer sported through the 1950s, '60s and '70s, which happened to coincide with three distinctive fashion eras.

Using the timeline concept not only allows the apparel brand to chronicle Palmer's career for new consumers, but naturally promotes variety among the collection, according to Geoff Tait, creative director of Arnie apparel.

Said Tait: "We put our heads together and asked, 'What tells the story of this iconic man?' Lucky enough for us (his career spanned decades) and obviously things change over time, including in the fashion world, and we parlayed what was on the runways back then."

The 1950s collection, for example, borrows from Palmer's days wearing Penguin by Munsingwear and its trademark small collars and shorter sleeves.

The Arnie line also will be punctuated by limited-edition pieces to be released around the dates of major championships and key tournaments won by Palmer. The debut of a sleek green and yellow shirt, for example, will coincide with this year's Masters Tournament.

On-course wear created by Arnie apparel will use performance fabrics, but such pieces represent just a portion of the new venture. Its goal is to be a major lifestyle brand and already offers items such as collared dress shirts, sweaters and pants. In addition to select on- and off-course retailers, Arnie is targeting high-end department stores for distribution. The average price for polo shirts is $79.

After a few years out of the apparel business, Arnold Palmer Enterprises decided to pursue the category again for its revenue potential and marketing opportunity. According to Cori J. Britt, vice president of Arnold Palmer Enterprises, branded apparel essentially doubles as billboards.

He said the company tapped Tait and Bobby Pasternak for their track record in building Quagmire Golf clothing, which they co-founded in 2005, and their creative ideas tailored for a younger demographic.

"Often when we meet with prospects who are interested in doing business with Arnold Palmer, they figure they have a decent product and if they put the Arnold Palmer name on it, that's what's going to make it sell," Britt said. "Our determination is, will the product be very successful on its own? With (Tait and Pasternak) we found a partner who clearly wants to do more than peddle a name."

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