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Jan 11, 2020

Glenmuir pushing golf apparel boundaries

Angela Sara West talks to Mikhel Ruia, MD of Glenmuir for Sunderland of Scotland, about their winning formula, innovative golfwear, famous fans and latest on-trend collection

From Nick Faldo and Sam Torrance, to Lee Westwood and Colin Montgomerie, the leading technical golf wear brand, Sunderland of Scotland, has been sported by many of the greatest players in the history of golf. Capturing the essence of the game with its expertly-crafted, traditional but forward-thinking golfwear, the world-famous brand has just been acquired by renowned golf knitwear and clothing company Glenmuir, which has been at the heart of the game ever since its beginnings back in 1891.

Born in the birthplace on golf, Scotland, Glenmuir for Sunderland of Scotland stands at the forefront of technology and innovation in performance golf outerwear, and has been crafting quality golf clothing since the late 19th century. Elegant and, of course, Scottish to the core, the revered company is synonymous with golf and, 130 years on, is still thriving today, as it continues to develop its worldrenowned reputation as one of the leading golf brands in the industry.

An historic agreement announced in October brought together Scotland’s most-loved golf brands with a combined 230 years of golfing heritage between them. From January 1, 2020, Glenmuir will own the global rights and distribution for the Sunderland of Scotland brand outside of Asia. The agreement follows on from a successful ten-year partnership where Glenmuir teamed up with Sunderland to become the official European distributor for the original, and leading, technical weatherwear golf brand.

“Both brands are a natural fit, with their respective Scottish heritage, shared brand values and focus on crafting premium quality durable products,” says Mikhel Ruia, Managing Director, Glenmuir and Sunderland of Scotland. “They also allow us to innovate our product offering for different customers, with the Glenmuir brand focused on traditional and elegant golf wear, and Sunderland of Scotland on technical, high performance weatherwear.”

A prestigious Ryder Cup heritage

The official Ryder Cup licensee boasts an impressive history rich in prestige and heritage. The clothes and accessories manufacturer has been creating golf and knitwear with impeccable care, skill and dedication to the craft ever since its creation, and the company continues to push the boundaries of research and development in fabric performance, garment design and manufacture. “We remain committed to serving the on-course golf professional shop, which remains at the heart of our business,” says Ruia. “Our focus on product quality, embroidery and customer service have made the brands the most respected and reliable names in golf, and we’re excited to enter our next chapter on our journey of growth and development.”

Knitting the Ryder Cup team together

The brand’s long-standing association with the Ryder Cup began in 1987, when Tony Jacklin captained the first-ever European Team to lift the trophy on ‘foreign soil’. The European Ryder Cup Team has proudly worn Glenmuir shirts and knitwear pretty much ever since. The partnership between Glenmuir and the European Ryder Cup committee has been one of the longestrunning in the world of high-profile professional sport, with Glenmuir the ‘preferred supplier’ of shirts and knitwear.

“Glenmuir has had the privilege of supplying the shirts and knitwear to successive European Ryder Cup Teams, since Europe’s famous first victory at Muirfield Village in the US, right up to, and including, the victorious 2014 European Team at Gleneagles,” Ruia explains. The company is also a Corporate Partner of the PGAs of Europe and, in 2011, was the Preferred Supplier to both teams in the Vivendi Seve Trophy. Also selected for the Curtis Cup and Solheim Cup teams over the years, these prestigious partnerships serve to endorse the brand that epitomises quality, reliability and playability.

Going global

Both brands have seen tremendous growth in the last two years and are now distributed worldwide. Glenmuir for Sunderland is retailed globally in golf clubs and resorts, gracing outlets in over 30 countries, including Switzerland, France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Australia, South Africa, Russia and South Korea, along with a number of leading UK and European golf courses. “Our product provenance, quality and, importantly, durability have been the key drivers to meet the high tastes of female and male golfers worldwide,” explains Ruia. “There is a great demand and cachet associated with Scottish quality and British-designed products in the export markets, and we are honoured to export to the four corners of the world, all from our Lanark HQ, with the latest market to launch both brands being Canada.”

Going back to grass roots

In 1891, businessman Andrew MacDougall established a knitwear factory in the small village of Kirkfieldbank, near Lanark. The business then moved to a new factory in Lanark itself, which remains the company’s headquarters to this day. The premises were extended to accommodate the ever-growing business, which continues its commitment to creating perfectly-manicured golfwear with impeccable care, skill and dedication to the craft.

“Mr MacDougall was the inventor of a new power-driven machine that greatly simplified the design and manufacture of fancy golf hose,” Ruia explains. This legacy, tradition and culture influences Glenmuir’s products. “Whilst our rich heritage inspires our passion. we continue to develop, innovate and embrace contemporary golf apparel and knitwear technology trends.”

In 1911, the Sunderland family began clothing (tailoring) manufacture in the Scottish city of Glasgow. Toby Sunderland had studied men’s tailoring in Leeds, before joining the family tailoring business and, in 1966, he and his wife, Ida, founded Sunderland Sportswear Ltd, later renamed Sunderland of Scotland, and brought to market the first ultralightweight golf rainsuits made from Italian acrylic-coated nylon. In 1970, Sunderland became the first British company in their sector to show at the PGA Merchandise Show in Florida.

Riding high on the Ryder Cup - Greg Norman & Seve Ballesteros get on board

Following a successful Ryder Cup involvement at Walton Heath, Greg Norman was signed up as Sunderland’s Staff Tour Pro in 1981. Sunderland’s Tour Panel has since seen Nick Faldo and Sandy Lyle signed, among other big names including the great Seve Ballesteros.

In 1982, Sunderland designed a ‘Sharkskin’ suit in association with Norman. Lighter, softer and more flexible than anything else on the market, it became a huge success, both on the Ryder Cup tour and in the pro-shop, and was judged the ‘best in show’ product at the 1984 PGA Merchandise Show in Florida. The following year, the first Gore-Tex suit ‘Classic’was introduced and modelled by Nick Faldo, while Sunderland ambassador, Seve Ballesteros, sported various Sunderland pieces, including the Classic, Oyster and Dolphin rainsuits and the Nylontex windshirt at St. Andrews.

High performance for all

In 1988, the first drop-liner golf rainsuit was invented by Sunderland. Featuring the Gore- Tex Z-Liner system, where the liner carries a waterproof membraneouter, and lightweight fabric with water-resistant finish, it made for a softer feel and allowed use of more fashionable fabrics. The success of the drop-liner principle spawned the development of the Oyster rainsuit, a high-performance dropliner product at an affordable price.

In 1989, US subsidiary, Sunderland of Scotland Inc., was opened in Canoga Park, California, by Paul Sunderland with Sid Freund, seeing it successfully selling Sharkskin, Oyster and Classic rainsuits, along with windshirts, which were virtually unknown in the US at the time. Sunderland were absolutely astounded by the staggering success of their windshirts, which had been a staple Sunderland product in the UK and Europe for years, but hitherto rejected by the previous US distributor!

Trendsetting & co-ordinated on-andoff course outfits

Trends go a ‘fairway’ in influencing Glenmuir’s designs, ensuring wearers always look way above par. Golfers were taking a walk on the wild side this summer with fashionable animal prints and now winter’s here, it’s time to refresh your golf wardrobe with brand new styles, shades and looks from the Glenmuir 2018 Autumn Winter Collection. The Spring Summer 2020 collection (SS20) offers fresh colours - Magenta, Spring Green and Ascot Blue - with a focus on sustainable performance fabrics and natural performance.

Their current bestsellers? “Products with our signature Glenmuir Tartan have proved very successful,” Ruia reveals. “Lambswool is popular in Scotland and Scandinavia. Different climates demand different fabric technologies, and we must also take into account the timing of seasons to ensure the right products are available in the right place at the right time. For example, the Australia and Spain golf summer seasons take place during the UK winter seasons. Our merino wool has also been popular in all of our markets.”

1891 Heritage Collection

For its AW 2019 collection, Glenmuir introduced highperformance midlayers and the luxury touch of cashmere knitwear. The Scottish heritage golf brand recently launched a cool new capsule knitwear collection, inspired by their retro sporting heritage of crafting the finest golf knitwear since 1891. The limitededition ‘1891’ Heritage Collection of knits captures the company’s 130- year legacy perfectly, with “1891” embroidered on every piece.

Signature tartan

Stay stylish throughout the winter golf season with ontrend tartan. Three new Men’s Touch of Cashmere Zip neck sweaters include the super-stylish g.Galloway, reflecting elegant luxury with a subtle moss stitch and cable front incorporating a discrete flash of signature Glenmuir tartan. The Men’s’ trouser collection sees an exciting addition to the g.Cuthberts range, with a new tartan option, too. New Autumn/ Winter Ladies’ Touch of Cashmere styles, meanwhile, include a subtle shimmer this sparkling season, appealing big time to non-playing golf widows, too.

“This collection delivers high-performing products, beautifully crafted and designed from luxurious-performance and natural fibre fabrics. We believe the collection meets the high demands and needs of the modern elegant female and male golfer,” adds Claire Woods, Head of Design, Glenmuir.

Sustainability

Glenmuir has worked with natural fibres, such as pure combed cotton and bamboo, since 1891. “Glenmuir has always, and will always, remain committed to respecting all of our stakeholders, whether that be customers, suppliers, partners or colleagues, and the same goes for the environment,” Ruia explains.

The company has pioneered sustainable performance fabrics and natural fibres for their Spring Summer 2020 collection. “Glenmuir is a pioneer in golf clothing with natural fibres which are renewable and environmentally friendly. We focus on sustainable performance fabrics and natural performance, and are telling our story through our #GlenmuirCare campaign.”

This ethos was at the heart of the Spring Summer 2020 collection, producing high-quality, functional and elegant products which are made using sustainable and renewable methods and craftsmanship. “We believe the collection meets the high demands and needs of the modern elegant female and male golfer.” Examples include socks made from bamboo fibres, which are antibacterial, odour resisting and naturally wick moisture away from your skin. “What’s more, for the first time in its 130-year history, 2019 saw Glenmuir launch a golf dress!”

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