A couple of years ago, I asked (among others) Kristin Hinze, the Global Head of Merchandising at Puma Golf, when golf clothing will be environmentally friendly and sustainable.
I just met Reflo sportswear manufacturer who manufactures sustainable & environmentally friendly golf apparel. This is why I interviewed Rory Macfadyen, the Co-Founder of Reflo.
Are the differences between performance and fashion really gone?
We are seeing more than ever the boundaries between fashion and performance merge, and customers are expecting to not only feel good in the apparel they wear but look good also. For sportswear, we definitely see the two now need to go hand in hand and both are at the forefront of our launch collection.
At Reflo, we added another layer into the thinking which is “do good”. As a brand, we want people to Look good, feel good and do good when purchasing and wearing our sustainable apparel. “Look good” covers the fashion element, ultimately people will wear our clothes because they look good.
We saw many sustainable and eco brands out there that achieved the eco-credentials, but their apparel didn’t look cool. Feeling good is the performance approach, we focused on high-performance fabrics and cuts that are rigorously tested.
Finally, do good, this is what most brands aren’t doing and when you dig into it, most brands that say they are unfortunately are greenwashing. Most fashion brands take a toll on the planet. We don’t think it’s enough just to minimize our environmental impact.
Active Regeneration™ is built into our foundation. Every aspect of our business strives to make a positive imprint with concrete action. We built every element of this brand to be better for the planet and the people on it. From using recycled yarns in all of the products, planting trees for every product sold to ensuring fair working conditions and wages for the people making the products.
For high-end fashion, performance seems to be less important, but the merger of active and streetwear into high fashion shows the merger shows a customer-driven demand.
How long can sustain its growth the golf apparel industry?
We don’t see a stop in the growth of the apparel industry and that is supported in the data* which predicts the market is expected to grow annually by 2.82% (CAGR 2021-2026). Whilst we think this will happen, we don’t think it is sustainable when it comes to the impact it will have on the environment.
The world of fast fashion is having a devastating impact. We actively tell people to buy less and wear more. When clothing works hard and looks great, you’ll reach for it again and again. That’s why we always create pieces at the forefront of performance and design.
We never dictate how or when to wear them. They’re made to be flexible in every way. Our Sidra Golf Chino’s are designed to look like a smart pair of chinos you could wear out for dinner or to the office but are made from performance fabrics which means they perform on the course for example.
We do less but do it better. We don’t release new lines every week. We don’t produce endless samples. There’s nothing fast about our fashion. Everything in our collection is precisely designed, rigorously tested, and crafted to stand the test of time.
Our aim for 2022 is sustainable growth, to take market share from the incumbent brands and encourage people to buy less and buy better.
How do you make your golf apparel sustainable?
Reflo clothing is made from advanced technical fabrics woven from recycled waste. Single-use plastic waste and coffee beans are given new life in our clothes. The fabrics we create adhere to multiple sustainability certifications including Global Recycled Standard, Bluesign, Oetko-Tex, and U Trust.
The term futureproof means designs that keep up with a changing world and stay relevant for years to come. To us, futureproof means building durability into our apparel and long-term thinking into every aspect of our brand.
Every Reflo item purchased plants one tree in our forest. We’re working with Ecologi and the Eden Reforestation Project to make this happen.
Our mission is to plant one million trees in our first five years of business. From our sixth year onwards, we’re going to increase that goal to one million trees every year.
There are no single-use plastics in our supply chain and all of our packing is biodegradable. We’re not perfect – that’s what pushes us to keep improving. We always look for ways to be more sustainable, more efficient, more effective. And we won’t stop.
Do you see business opportunities in Athluxe?
It’s a trend we have seen growing and more luxury brands are releasing active and sportswear ranges. Naturally, people might see our price points and think we are in this category as Reflo is not cheap.
It’s not cheap because we ensure fair working conditions and wages for the people making our products, we use world-class fabrics with the highest level of sustainable certifications and we plant a tree for every product sold.
If you are buying a golf polo shirt for $50, the chances are someone isn’t being paid fairly in that ecosystem, and that is likely to be the person making it.
So for us, that positioning isn’t trying to be a luxury brand, it is trying to be a fair brand. We want Reflo to be a brand that people are proud to wear and actively talk about us.
Who are you designing your golf apparel for? What is the business value of your target market?
Ultimately we want Reflo to be for everyone, it is a broad brushstroke to say, but we see a huge trend in people wanting to make more sustainable choices moving forward. Our mission was to create a range that allows people to make sustainable choices without sacrificing style, performance, or comfort.
We are doing something new in the golf landscape, so we feel there is a job to do to educate golfers about what we do, but we feel once people understand how we are different and feel the amazing quality of our products, they will be customers for life.
We are already seeing that with return custom to our online store (reflo.com). People tend to make a small order to start with, then once they have received the product come back with a bigger order.