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This Black-owned Brand Wants Golf to Be More Inclusive, So It’s Launching a Women’s Line

On Thursday, Eastside Golf will launch a 20-plus piece collection intended to target female golfers at every stage of the game, from beginners to seasoned players.

This Black-owned Brand Wants Golf to Be More Inclusive, So It’s Launching a Women’s Line

Looks from Eastside Golf’s first full women’s collection.

Since its founding in 2019, Eastside Golf has sought to bring diversity and inclusivity to the world of golf with its distinctive menswear collection. And now, the Black-owned brand founded by Olajuwon Ajanaku and Earl Cooper is turning its attention to women.

On May 9, Eastside Golf will launch a 20-plus piece collection intended to target female golfers at every stage of the game, from beginners to seasoned players. The line includes pieces that can be worn on and off the course including a two-piece tracksuit, banded cropped Ts, a jumpsuit and a collection of piqué polos, skorts and dresses, all of which feature Eastside Golf’s script or swingman logo. Many of the pieces include hidden pockets to hold tees, balls, sunglasses, keys or other valuables.

The collection also includes accessories such as hats that are lined with satin to be comfortable for a variety of hair styles and textures.

This Black-owned Brand Wants Golf to Be More Inclusive, So It’s Launching a Women’s Line

Eastside Golf’s inauguaral women’s collection will be around 20 pieces.

“Since our early days, we’ve had women purchasing Eastside Golf items for themselves, and asking us when we’d be entering the women’s category,” said Ajanaku, cofounder and creative director. “But we didn’t want to ‘shrink and pink’ our existing products; we wanted to create something authentic and considered. This is why we dedicated additional resources to bringing on designers with extensive expertise in women’s apparel to create items that are both fashionable and functional, and equally at home on the street or in the clubhouse.”

He said the addition of a tracksuit to the collection came as a result of a panel Eastside conducted with 50 women executives around the Masters in Augusta, Ga., last month. “Two things stood out,” he said. They asked for a tracksuit that was relaxed to provide more mobility for swinging a club as well as a hat that wouldn’t mess up their hair. The launch collection will offer both.

Cooper, cofounder and chief executive officer, added: “As a fashion brand rooted in golf, we are making a brand for golfers and nongolfers alike. Our clothes are designed to feel good both on and off the course. We are serving women who have, up to this point, not been served by golf apparel brands in the way they deserve — they do not have the clothing options that men do, despite making up a sizable, and increasing, portion of the golf-playing community. We are incredibly proud of the collection and hope to draw in women who are looking for golf clothing that is not just functional but fashionable, and gives them the confidence to be their authentic selves on and off the course.”

This Black-owned Brand Wants Golf to Be More Inclusive, So It’s Launching a Women’s Line

Many of the pieces can be worn on or off the golf course.

The collection will be released in three phases in May, with drops this Thursday, May 16 and May 23. It will be sold on the Eastside Golf website and app.

Ajanaku said Eastside has dabbled in womenswear in the past, notably creating a capsule for a collaboration with Mercedes-Benz that kicked off last fall, but this marks the brand’s first full collection.

“It’s always been a desire of ours to do women’s,” Cooper said. “As golf exploded, we’ve seen the demand with women wearing our hats, sweaters, some polos. So it was a great learning experience for us.”

In its men’s collection, around 45 percent of the mix is targeted to golf, 40 percent is lifestyle and the other 15 percent can be worn for both, he said.

“How we became successful is that we rode the line where everything we made could be worn on or off the golf course,” he said. “We sell the same pieces to Liberty National as Up NYC so why not do the same with women’s?”

Although the men’s line is wholesaled, he said the initial women’s collection will only be available on the Eastside e-commerce site. “We’ll launch direct-to-consumer to see how it goes,” he said. “This has been a huge change for us in strategy. We’re launching a new website to be sure we speak to the women’s consumer as well.”

This Black-owned Brand Wants Golf to Be More Inclusive, So It’s Launching a Women’s Line

A look from the Eastside Golf women’s collection.

Cooper said Eastside Golf as a company is doing well. “We just opened a headquarters in New York City and closed a round of funding. We’ve made a significant investment into the women’s line. We’re using different marketing and factories but we see value in womenswear. As Black men, we are underrepresented in golf and that’s the case with women too.”

He said he acknowledges the “intimidation factor” that is commonplace in the sport and noted that some clubs still won’t let women become members. “So we felt it was important and necessary to do this.”

His partner added that women who take up the game also have an opportunity to further their careers by providing access in a casual setting to other professionals in their field. “Golf brings people closer together,” he said. “You can either ask a CEO to meet for coffee for five minutes or play golf where you have full access for four or five hours.”

Many brands find that after launching womenswear, the category ultimately becomes larger than men’s. In the case of Eastside Golf, Cooper said he believes womenswear can eventually be as large as men’s. “But it’ll take a while to get there.”

Ajanaku said he’d eventually like to expand into uniforms for women’s collegiate teams or possibly endowing a women’s team, noting that the brand has donated $300,000 to the Morehouse men’s golf team. Ajanaku and Cooper met at Morehouse when they were both on the golf team there and won a national championship together.

After graduation, Ajanaku left his job in corporate finance to launch Eastside. He was joined by Cooper, a PGA professional and golf teacher. The brand expects to hit $10 million in sales this year, up from $1 million in 2020. Eastside has been worn by NBA players Chris Paul and Jayson Tatum, NFL greats Patrick Mahomes and Victor Cruz, musician DJ Khaled and President Barack Obama, among others. It has partnered with Mercedes-Benz, Citi, and the NBA. The brand also debuted a six-part docuseries on Hulu and collaborated with Nike to create nine exclusive sneakers for the Jordan Brand.