Greyson Clothiers was founded by Charlie Schaefer, who had spent 13 years working in design for Ralph Lauren, but had dreams of creating his own brand.
He named Greyson after his daughter, featuring a wolf for the logo. Schaefer said his mantra for the apparel brand is those who stand up for what they believe in and know when it’s time to lead the pack.
Greyson has had tremendous growth over the last few years, merging fashion and sport and has big plans on the horizon. The brand has been championed by ambassadors like Erik van Rooyen (see our interview with him below).
We asked Schaefer some questions regarding the growth of the business and design.
Golfweek: Has the explosion in golf since the pandemic hit made it easier to find a customer base, or harder because more fashion outlets are trying to get into the space?
Charlie Schaefer: We had been seeing nice growth with our customer base prior to COVID so it is difficult to say if the pandemic has had an impact in either direction. The golf space has definitely seen some saturation with a lot of brands entering the market recently. I don’t think that hurts Greyson, on the contrary, the budding competition helps bring visibility to the game. It has become very clear what brands are unique and authentic. We are incredibly fortunate as our customer base is deeply loyal and continues to support us as we expand.
GW: You once were high on brick-and-mortar stores. Obviously, you still have the Detroit store but Palm Beach didn’t make it through. Is that the wave of the future, or have you shifted your vision?
CS: Palm Beach was always meant to be temporary as it was a friend’s space. It was our opportunity to learn and continue to refine the model. I believe that brick-and-mortar is crucial to longevity and sustainability, as it allows you to express truly who you are. Greyson’s retail plan is based on creating unique concepts where the physical store becomes a platform to experiment and bring our lifestyle and message to local communities. Not one store will be alike … each store will be unique to its surroundings with a focus on community and engagement. Our vision has always been clear in the sense that we will not do the traditional model … we will approach each store from a curator’s perspective. We value so intensely each community we enter so we will be sure to provide something unique and special. Let’s just say there are a lot of fun concepts in the near future.
GW: What obstacles do you see on the golf business horizon, and what’s the biggest you’ve already hurdled?
CS: The biggest obstacle that we will always face is the pace of change in the sport. We have always highly respected the game, but at the same token want to innovate and create an environment that is inviting and cool. I understood early on that if we do what we believe in (truly) and not think of “rules” that we would inevitably help create change with those who follow.
The hurdles have been tremendous for any startup company … raising capital, making product, selling product, creating models, managing cash flow, hiring a team … hurdles not one more special than the other, but with each obstacle that we stepped through, we have become stronger. To me, that is everything. I welcome obstacles as it gives us an opportunity to prove how strong we are.
GW: Do you see the brand expanding into a women’s line with its exponential growth on the men’s side?
CS: Yes. This fall we will finally take care of all the women in our lives. I am incredibly excited. We have built such a strong team that I have intense confidence around this expansion.
OK, let’s get into the clothes themselves:
GW: What was the inspiration behind some of Greyson’s brighter patterns and prints?
CS: Life. nature, looking beyond and being inspired by that which is around us. I am the person who looks at every piece of architecture and every shape of tree. I take trips to the park just to examine the colors of the birds. Visits to the zoo with my girls have a hidden agenda of geeking out on the patterns of jaguars, giraffes, and peacocks. I wander through botanical gardens, marveling at the staghorn ferns, the delicacy of orchids, and the colors of the delphiniums. The inspiration around Greyson is endless as I pull inspiration from life.
GW: When introducing the golf jogger, did you fear that the Tour would not accept them or see them as a casual pant?
CS: I didn’t care. The evolution of sport and specifically golf has seen some “colorful” fashion. Knickers have been in and around the game since the beginning. I believe that the jogger is the modern-day knicker.
GW: Greyson’s hoodies typically do not have a drawstring, do you think that helps them stay more appropriate for competitive play?
CS: Yes, that was very intentional. Our designs are educated and cater to the needs of the golfer. We do not have pouches on our cashmere hoodies. I believe that your clothes should transcend your life and style. By this, I mean that you should be able to wear the same look from the office to the course to dinner. By making the styles cleaner and more sophisticated — hence no drawcord and pouch — we have allowed that piece to be worn in a multitude of occasions.
GW: What makes your polos stand out from other companies?
CS: Everything. They are designed with a bespoke haberdashery manner, focusing on the nuances of a dress shirt collar but created with the most innovative technological fabrics. They are basically the best combination of function and technology with a nod to men’s tailoring.