He is a stylish fellow, clad in top hat and morning coat and sporting a bow tie. His left hand clutches a pair of gloves, and his right holds a slender cane upon which he leans. He is middle-aged, of English lineage and found at many of the best golf retreats in the land. He is Clubman.
Only Clubman is not actually a man. Rather, he is a brand, of hair tonics, talcum powders and after-shave lotions that fill the locker rooms of clubs everywhere. You know the
products, with the pale green background and red lettering and the natty Clubman trademark, lined up with those ancient tubes of Brylcream and alongside those jars of combs soaking in that industrial blue solution.
I’ve seen Clubman around my place for years and always wondered who owned the company and where the products were made. I also was curious about the places they were sold as I have never found a Clubman canister of spray deodorant or shaving cream anywhere other than actual clubs themselves. It all made me feel a little like the title characters in “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid,” thinking: “Who are those guys?”
So I began nosing around, first by picking up a bottle of Clubman cologne and looking on the label for an address. It read: “Clubman Pinaud, Los Angeles, Ca.,” and I went right to directory assistance. But there was no listing for either name in all L.A.
Next step was an Internet search, but all I got there were names and numbers of various Clubman distributors. Still no information on the company headquarters and someone who could tell me all about it.
Finally, I went to the general manager of my club, who put me in touch with the man who sells Clubman in our area, who put me in touch with the company itself.
I figured it would have been easier to get the specs of the next generation Pro V1.
My source was Bill Kochanski, manager of the Clubman brand, and first he provided me with a little history. He said it all started with a company called Pinaud, which began making a line of men’s toiletries in the United Kingdom in the early 1800s. The products used only the finest essences and ingredients and were sold primarily through high-end stores.
At some point, Pinaud developed Clubman as an offshoot brand, and that was sold mostly in barber shops and barber shop boutiques. By the 1940s, it had become a staple in those locales, as well as in selected retail outlets. But according to Kochanski, it had yet to make its way into golf and country clubs.
All that began to change in the mid-1970s, when the Clubman brand was purchased by a privately held Los Angeles-based company called American International Industries (A.I.I.) and its president, Zvi Ryzman.
Rzyman has moved to expand the number of Clubman offerings as well as the places where they could be found, including clubs and also major chains such as Wal-Mart and Walgreen’s. It also became a brand that did very well internationally, and Clubman products are currently sold throughout Central America and South America as well as Europe and the Middle East.
What makes Clubman such a popular fellow? Many of my golf partners say it is the smell of the different products, and Kochanski says he understands why that is so appealing.
“The classic Clubman scent has not changed much over the years,” he explains. “It has a citrus, woodsy top note, and on the second level it is mostly musk. Plus, many of the fragrances we use today, whether it’s Bay Rum or Quinine or Eau de Portugal, are pretty much the same ones that were used way back in the early 19th century. We have modified them some, but we haven’t really changed them. And it has been important to keep the line more or less intact along the way and as original as possible.”
For as long as most people can remember, Clubman was geared toward a definitely middle-aged crowd, the 40-and-over set who liked to go to places like country clubs and golf clubs. And A.I.I. wants to keep things that way. But Kochanski says the company is branching out to a younger set, starting with a series of hair grooming products known as Clubman U.S.A. Sport.
It’s nice stuff, but Clubman himself is nowhere to be found on the label.
Clubman without the Clubman?
Not to worry, says Kochanski. Clubman will always be around to serve us traditionalists.