Swannies Golf Takes Off

Swannies Golf Takes Off

Behind the apparel brand's rise to fame.

Swannies Golf, the Inver Grove Heights-based golf apparel brand, is growing rapidly; it’s now sold in more than 1,500 pro shops across the U.S. and Canada. Started in 2015 by Adam Ivy, Matt Stang, and a group of friends who grew up caddying at Twin Cities country clubs (and playing on less expensive municipal courses), the guys raised $20,000 through Kickstarter to produce “the world’s first soft spiked golf sandal.” It flopped, but the promotional T-shirts they made in the process proved so popular that they shifted focus to men’s apparel. (Women’s came later.) They named the company after their friend Sam Swanson, because he had the coolest nickname. He designed the swan logo that has become a signature element in many of the brand’s most popular styles. Chief design officer Marishah Erickson shares the Swannies product development process. 

Logo on the right: The product team noticed many brands placing their logo on the left sleeve, so of course Swannies put its woven label on the right. 

Anatomy of a swan: “We’ve put the swan inside a diamond or a square. The circle is the one we come back to again and again. We’ve filled the swan with a print and done it in different colors. But the most popular seems to be the classic swan.” 

Inspiration: The Swannies team saw a man wearing a shirt with bees on it and thought, “Hey, let’s do flying swans!” Introduced in 2018, the Gilligan polo remains a top seller, available each season in new colors. 

Attention to detail: Contrasting thread color on the buttons adds a “next-level” touch, Erickson says.

Crowdsourcing: “We get a lot of feedback [on fit and design] from our sales team. They are our demographic; they are out there on the courses and talking to pros. It’s a great feedback loop that a lot of bigger brands don’t utilize.” 

Color theory: Each Swannies collection (they’re called “flights”) hinges on three colors. “We look for interesting combinations and get ideas from trend reports, Pinterest. New Balance sneakers do a great job of mixing three colors together—that gets ideas spinning.” 

Fabric:  Swannies shirts use Repreve, a fabric made from recycled water bottles. 

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“Early on, we had no brand recognition. Then we started spotting our swan in the wild. We knew we were on to something.”

—Marishah Erickson, chief design officer, Swannies Golf

Insight

The global golf clothing market, valued at $834 million in 2020, is projected to reach $1.5 billion by 2030, according to Allied Market Research.