A Straight-Eight Interview with Mike Hammontree of Chase54 Apparel
It’s always nice, in a humorous way, to take a trip down the lane of memories and revisit the golf clothing of yore and yesteryear. Nice, as long as I wake up in a nice shirt from 2010, a pair of pants from 2011, or shorts from 2012. You can’t go home again to the golf clothing of the 1970s; you shan’t return to another place with heavy, sticky fabrics.
Chase54 is a neat company making spiffy apparel. By neat and spiffy, I mean totally wearable. I wanted to bring a sense of the company and its products, beyond what you read on a website (which you can do, at chase54.com) Rather than do an investigation of the distinction between hydrophilic and hydrophobic fabric sides (and why C54 uses both) or present a debate on the worth/worthlessness of collar stays (Chase believes it’s the former), I opted to let the brain trust offer the verbage. Here, then is a straight-eight interview with Mike Hammontree, Brand Director at Chase54
1. How did Chase54 come to be? Who are the principal figures and what industry experience did they bring to this venture?
Chase54 started with a simple meeting between washed up golfers struggling to find great apparel at an affordable price, and a garment manufacturer with 30 years experience looking to build a golf brand. Jay Baker, a former collegiate player and golf industry sales professional, and Mike Hammontree, a once upon a time mini tour player, PGA Tour equipment rep and brand developer, were given the task of creating a new golf apparel brand by a manufacturer with unlimited capabilities and cutting edge fabric technologies.
2. What is the target of Chase54? Any specific demographic(s) to which the company wishes to appeal?
The Chase54 player is someone that loves the game for everything that is the game. The joy of the perfect shot, the jokes with friends, the nerves over a 2 footer for $5, the frustration when that “baby draw” just goes straight, long drive contests for beers, beating your husband on the back 9, practicing till sundown to come back and sweep the dew in the morning. Chase54 is not just about clothing, it’s about the lifestyle that is golf, and chasing its perfection.
3. What is unique about the fabric or patterns that Chase54 employs in its apparel?
Chase54 has access to fabrics faster than nearly any other company due to our manufacturing relationships. We use the most cutting edge, innovative fabrics available and can get them to market faster. See the attached overview of some of the fabrics we offer in our Spring 13 collection.
4. Any plans to establish a stable of touring pros (female or male) to bring visibility to the company?
Indeed we do. Jason Kokrak - PGA Tour, Nicole Smith - LPGA Tour, John Hurley - Web.com Tour (tentative agreement as of 1/7/13. Will inform when official), Jason Eslinger - Long Drive Professional, as well as many Developmental Tour Players and Long Drive Professionals.
5. Any plans to develop cool-weather or rainy-weather lines?
Fall 13 will have both sweaters, long sleeved polos and layering pieces, as well as element-proof outerwear.
6. Talk a bit about your breast cancer awareness drive that extends well beyond other one-day fundraisers.
Philanthropy is going to have a very special place with Chase54. We have an unwavering commitment to give back to the community around us. The first campaign is our partnership with Save The TaTa’s to promote breast cancer research. Personally, my aunt is a survivor and knowing how many women and families are affected by this disease, we felt we could do our part to promote awareness within the golf community and support the research efforts to help find a cure. Moving forward, we will continue to support this cause as well as many others, as well as create other programs that make a difference beyond the fairway.
7. What inspired the style of Chase54? Some companies use the “traditional prep” tag while others exhibit a “beach cool.” How to describe the shirts, shorts, skirts and pants of Chase54?
We wanted clothes we could wear on the course, in the office, at the bar, and look better than anyone else in the room. Our “style” will continue to evolve as our brand does, but that will be the core.
8. What question have we not asked, that you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it, if you please.
“What is ‘We Believe…’ about?”
“We Believe…” was one of the first brand identity pieces I came up with in the early stages of Chase54. We wanted our customers to be able to connect with us not only on a brand level, but a personal level. Get to know us for who we really are. Neither Jay or I take ourselves too seriously and we wanted that to be reflected in the brand somehow. So, we made a list of everything we believe in, both to do with the game and in general, and put it up on the website. Every statement is true (for example, I really do believe in Bigfoot), and it gives us a chance to show our customers that we are golfers, we are movie watchers, we knock back a couple cold ones, we love a good prank, and we enjoy life. That’s what Chase54 is all about.Let me know anything else you need. Feel free to give me a call with any other questions.
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