There was torrential downpour when I got the email last Monday morning that I could go uptown from the financial district to Nike’s NYC offices in Chelsea to take a look at the 2012 goods apparel and footwear. And even despite the rain, I was so fired up to brave the rain for this rare chance to see it all in person. When I checked into the building, I took the elevator up to the sixth floor, hung a right, which opened up into a lobby of raw space made to look like a Nike Town store. One room was dedicated to all running gear, another area of the lobby was for the new women’s workout line, and sprawling out on the reception desk were numerous marketing material including an awesome, giant-sized Nike Sportswear magazine. While I waited in the lobby area, next to a couple mannequins wearing some of the new men’s and women’s golf line, I noticed a boardroom where a meeting was taking place. Hoping that they wouldn’t notice me drooling at the Vr Pro Limited driver in the staff bag right outside their window, I moved away and sat in an empty area while a film crew was taping a segment on the new line.
After a brief wait and a chat with the receptionist, I was met by Gretchen Wilhelm, PR Specialist for Nike Golf. She had such an inviting presence and automatically made me feel at ease, and most importantly welcome. Into the showcase room we went, where there was a giant boardroom table, and shockingly only me, Gretchen, Patti Harrison, Global Apparel Product and Merchandising Director, and Lee Walker, Global Product Director – Footwear & Equipment. No buyers, no media, just a diehard fan and the three people I’ve long wanted to speak to. Without sounding dramatic, it did feel a little surreal for me since apparel and footwear are my two favorite things about Nike Golf.
The room was separated into different sections (more on that in a bit), with a wall of all the latest golf shoes. Talk about a kid in a candy store. I tried to keep my enthusiasm controlled while I stared at all the new goods that caught my eye. In my head, I was shuffling a million miles an hour through the roledex of all my ideas for Nike Golf.
After some introductions, Patti started going through some of the strategy and innovation behind the men’s apparel line. For 2012, Nike is splitting the apparel into four different categories. There will be the Tour Performance, and TW lines, which we have seen in the past, and new for the year will be the Tour Premium and Sport collections.
While I don’t want to take anything away from the Tour Performance line, in fact, it includes some of my favorite pieces to date, or the TW line, I want to focus on the two new collections. The Tour Premium is reminiscent of the TW Platinum line and incorporates a lot of engineering. We’re talking about stitching enhancements, new sew seams, and fine detailing like colored piping and other accents. The Tour Premium line also has a slimmer fit and a more modern look. Fans of the old TW Platinum line will definitely like this.
The Sport collection will capture a younger and more creative demographic. There are a lot of new color combinations and they’ve incorporated not only the swoosh logo but the original NIKE block logo. The fabrics still include all the technology that you’d expect from Nike, but a lot are made from blends that are made to look like cotton polos. This whole line, will of course look great with the new Nike Dunk golf shoes. I’m told AK and Paul Casey will wear pieces of this collection on tour, so look out for that.
The Tiger Woods line received an upgrade, more of which you can read about here. Beyond the new design and style features, which you will definitely notice from prior TW collections, are dramatic improvements to the weight and construction of the polos. I can tell you that the new TW polo with its no-sew mesh color is simply the lightest polo around.
The Tour Performance collection continues to impress me every year. The biggest improvements this year are with the pants, including my favorite, the Modern Tech Pant. This is the pant favored most on tour with the Nike Athletes and will come in six colors including: white, light bone, dark grey, black, and my two favorites: bright blue and action red. The pants are slim fit, with a v-notch hem and weigh a mere 5.2 oz. There’s a lot of fine detailing too, including accents in the pocket areas.
The new outerwear line continued to make strides in leading the field in terms of rain wear (Ryder Cup captains take note please). There are a lot of new jackets that frankly, would be perfectly suited on the racks at Paragon Sports or Eastern Mountain Sports. I’m talking about garments that are completely wearable on and off the course. The new 20XI knit cap has a fleece lining too for winter golfers, although I am still hopeful that Nike will bring a knit cap with a pom back.
The wall of shoes, as I put it, was so massive and impressive, that it was difficult to digest. Lee Walker took me through some of the new improvements and walked me through the new molded spike shoes including the Lunar Prevail and the Lunar Ascend. My favorite shoe in the line is the new 2012 TW which has a new spike that has just been released. I also love what Nike has done with the new colorways for the Lunar Control, and their ability to make the Air Range waterproof. I am curious to see how the Lunar Prevail and the Lunar Ascend will perform in typically wet and soft northeast conditions. I will let you know what I find out.
As we wrapped up, I realized I had just ate up nearly 2 hours of their time and Gretchen, Lee and Patti, were gracious hosts for every minute of it. This was especially surprising for someone who wasn’t really bringing a budget like a big box store buyer. I left Nike feeling ecstatic and excited, like I had just experienced something I’ve always wanted to do.