Here are a few things you may have heard about Maide. They’re a golf apparel brand. They’re the sporty offspring of Bonobos. And practically everyone has heard about Bonobos – they make awesome pants. So that means Maide makes awesome golf pants. The kind that flatters your backside and keeps your shirt tucked in so that you can look like a gentlemen, the kind you’ve seen in black and white photographs. Plus, all your stylish friends say they are game-changing pants, the kind that will knock three shots off your score when you slip them on.
Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. (Alright, a big one.) But if you’ve spent your life golfing in those pleated rejects from the movie Tin Cup, it’s not that far from the truth.
Maide’s best-selling Highland pant has been a collection favorite from the start. It blends classic style with contemporary tailoring for a look that works for a variety of individuals, young and old. Fit in particular has been so instrumental to the product’s success that any subsequent tweaks to freshen things up have been mainly cosmetic. If there’s a lesson to be learned from the parent brand, it’s listen to your customers. Also, don’t mess with a good thing. That’s how you sell a million pair of chinos online without a substantial brick-and-mortar footprint.
The new lightweight Highland boasts a younger, fresher look – both in the design and construction – which is great for golfers who prefer wearing pants in the summertime.
Keep in mind, nobody reaches that kind of milestone strictly by selling the same set of chinos to everyone. Bonobos reiterated and expanded the selection with different fits and materials, and now Maide is doing the same for their Spring 2016 collection, notably with the Highland, which is now available in a lightweight, summer-friendly fabric.
As a fan of the original pant, I had some initial concerns that Maide might struggle with the execution. The problem with most lightweight fabrics designed to keep you cool is that they look and feel like paper mache. And in certain kinds of light, the person wearing them can even feel a little bit exposed. Rest assured, the folks at Maide had similar concerns. And it drove them to develop a product that replicates the same premium feeling of the Highland, but in a fabric that is significantly lighter.
“A lot of other brands that do a lightweight pant, it tends to look like a pajama – it doesn’t drape well or maintain a good shape to it,” says Ben Wescoe, Brand Manager at Maide. “So we were really sensitive to that. We have some good relationships with factories that make performance fabrics. We wanted something to that would still stretch and give a bit. And we wanted something breathable.”
The new lightweight Highland boasts a younger, fresher look – both in the design and construction – which is great for golfers who prefer wearing pants in the summertime. The fabric is both antimicrobial and moisture wicking, plus it’s finished with DWR (durable water repellent), a coating that’s a favorite of KJUS, a Swiss sportswear brand that knows how to keep you dry on the slopes.
If you’re not familiar with DWR, it’s a factory-applied treatment more commonly used in combination with Gore-Tex. When a garment treated with DWR comes in contact with water, the droplets pool on the surface and bead right off. This form of saturation, sometimes referred to as “wetting out” can reduce the garment’s breathability, so with that in mind, clothes treated with DWR tend to vary in their ability to repel water.
Wescoe admits he wouldn’t wear the new pants during a torrential downpour in Scotland, but that they can hold their own against the Florida heat and drizzle. He, along with a group of PGA instructors at the Breakers in Palm Beach tested the fabric out along the resort’s oceanfront holes and found that it struck the right balance between water protection and breathability. The lightweight Highland is available in both pants and shorts and will come in four colors (navy, safari khaki, grey and faded red). Customers purchasing pants will be able to choose between two fits, straight and slim.
On the PGA Tour, players like Ryan Moore and David Lingmerth, both of whom are under no obligation to the brand, have been road-testing the new pants in competition. They, along with Maide ambassador Bud Cauley, have given the brand a little more credibility among serious golfers, while being an additional source of feedback.
“Bud’s been an obvious choice for representing the brand. He’s a young guy who fits the clothes well and likes what he wears,” says Erin Grant, Senior Public Relations Associate at Maide. “The great thing about having him is that he does provide feedback on what works and what doesn’t, and he helps us think about different categories we want to expand on.”
Customers who have seen the brand evolve from year to year, will probably notice that the new collection embraces an even more refined, sophisticated style
From seeing the new collection first hand, and from speaking to Wescoe and Grant, Maide isn’t satisfied with being a leader in the lifestyle apparel market. They’re on a mission to position themselves as a performance brand. And frankly, I wouldn’t entertain bets against them.
The direction they’ve taken with their new collection is just the beginning. At some point, Maide will introduce a fully waterproof rain pant – something well-tailored that doesn’t look like a garbage bag that has to be zipped over a regular pair of pants.
As for the near future, a tour-ready version of the Highland pant is coming to market this Summer. Based on the prototype I saw, it’s going to be a hit with anyone who desires the latest and greatest gear on and off the course. That means it’ll resonate with guys who don’t mind paying full markup for a just-released driver.
“We’re figuring out that there’s a customer out there that does want this pant, including tour players,” says Grant. “It will give guys another touchpoint into the brand and a clothing option that they may not have had before.”
With the new tour pant, there’s no shortage of features. It comes with a zippered back pocket, an interior secure pocket large enough to fit a smart phone, several strategically-placed eyelets for additional breathability and a gripper waist band. But that’s not all. It’s also made using a four-way stretch performance fabric (slightly heavier than the standard Highland) sealed with DWR. The pants are also emblazoned with the term “M-Flex”, a phrase Maide coined to describe their hyper-mobile sportswear line.
Inspired by the elasticity of running gear, designers at Maide began messing around with the concept of M-Flex two years ago by stitching a set of flexible panels into the back of their performance polo. “The key things we wanted to execute in the design,” says Wescoe, “was moving the shoulder seams forward to improve a golfer’s comfort and range of motion. We paired it with a set of back panels in very fine pique stitch that’s almost like jersey that gives you a really nice feel throughout the swing.”
After a successful inaugural year for the M-Flex Flatiron polo, Maide brought the innovative design into other categories. This year’s Spring collection is infused with M-Flex. It’s featured in Maide’s quarter zip vest, quarter zip sweater, long sleeve polo and of course the Flatiron short-sleeve polo which comes in eight colors and two fits.
With the M-Flex polo and vest, the Highland pant has a great fitting, performance-driven partner. As for those performance sweaters, Maide has really stepped up their game. In addition to the M-Flex panels which blend seamlessly into the main fabric so that they don’t detract from the clean look, the yarn is woven using a popcorn-stitch pattern for texture from a fabric blended with cotton and Outlast acrylic that was developed for NASA to keep the temperature of the wearer regulated.
“It’s an extension of what we’ve been doing well within Maide which is our bottoms program,” Grant says about the brand’s expanded collection of shirts and sweaters. “It’s still stemming from the same inspiration – the heritage of golf and that whole golden age, back when Arnold Palmer was seen playing the game, but we’re having more fun with it.”
Customers who have seen the brand evolve from year to year, will probably notice that the new collection embraces an even more refined, sophisticated style. Some of the louder prints and retro elements that the company experimented with in years past have been de-emphasized in favor of showcasing simple, vibrant colors and small-scale prints – making it easy for golfers to get creative with layering. The new direction aligns perfectly with the big picture at Bonobos: make great clothes and simplify the shopping experience, perhaps even make it fun.
That means even the most fashionably-challenged guy can look good on the golf course. And with Maide’s increased emphasis on performance, they can feel better too.
Originally published on Minor House.