Recently I traveled to the PGA Show in Orlando – my goal is always to find unique products that golfers may not know about. On the side of the clothing, there are plenty of generous exhibits of the biggest names in golf. Under Armor, Adidas, Travis Matthew and many others show their latest designs to impress buyers.
The funny thing is that a 27-year-old man was walking around the show floor with a duffle bag full of polo shirts that were better in my opinion. Who would have thought that?
His name is Jordan Sack and he is the founder of the young polo brand Tillinger. The last couple of years he has been on a mission to perfect the modern polo that can be worn on the golf course, to work with friends or to go out. Tillinger, who derives his name from the famous course architect A.W. Tillinghast, sports the motto "not your grandpa & # 39; s polo shirt."
In the first instance I heard in early 2018 via social media about Tillinger. The shirts had received a number of positive reactions from large golf shops. I wanted to buy one, but when I went to the website, they were not available to buy. So I signed up for their newsletter to hear when they were back in stock.
For the next couple of months I received updates from Jordan that were refreshingly honest. He spoke about his manufacturing problems, looked at different prototypes and showed complete transparency. When he seemed to be at the finish, it fell apart with his supplier and he had to go with a new one. Jordan told everyone about the process (which I knew was devastating) and a few months later he could finally sell his brand new designs.
I will discuss why I like the shirt so much later in the article, but I want to let you know a bit more about the business trip that he has made. Most golfers do not get an inside view of what it takes to develop a product, market it, and deal with the failures and triumphs that occur along the way.
Golf shirts are not versatile
I have spoken with Jordan several times in recent months and had the opportunity to meet him personally during the PGA show. He is an enthusiastic, driven, humble man who tries to make something happen for himself.
Jordan first came up with the idea for Tillinger a few years ago when he was working on a summer internship in New York City. On Friday he was able to wear business casual clothing, but did not feel that his golf polo's were suitable. During the summers the city becomes brutally hot and humid, and everyone who commutes in the metro can testify to the need for sweat-wicking fabrics (I can certainly do that). While golf shirts would be more comfortable because of their fabrics – the logo's, bright colors and poor fit were not suitable for the office
So planted a seed. Why do not you try to make a polo with the performance fabrics used in golf wear? Also make sure that it looks like it can be worn in a working environment, on a golf course or in an informal environment.
It is actually not that easy
In 2014, Jordan worked a dead end job that did not make him very happy. Playing golf on weekends with his father and friends was almost the only thing that gave him joy. The idea for the polo was in the back of his mind, so he decided that he would start a business on the sidelines.
He consulted someone in the fashion industry. It turned out that clothing design was rather annoying. Through a happy network, Jordan was connected with a pattern maker who knew a small factory in Manhattan's clothing district.
In retrospect, he believes that none of this would have been possible if he did not live in the city. During his lunch breaks and whatever spare time he had, Jordan visited the factory to work on the shirt and make a prototype. This process lasted about 18 months. In April 2017, he was able to sell a small batch of the first Tillinger shirts to friends and family. The shirt came into the hands of Geoff Shackelford, who wore it on a live TV broadcast, which allowed him to generate some buzz. The following series of shirts was sold out fairly quickly.
While Jordan at that time had a nice proof-of-concept, the problem became production. The Tillinger shirts were made from a fabric in Canada that was very expensive for small runs. Jordan decided that he had to take a bigger step and find a manufacturer who could supply large quantities of shirts with a fabric that met his quality standards.
Geoff Shackelford wears the Tillinger Polo from the Instagram account of Golfweek
The only problem was that nobody would give him the time of the day. Most questions led to a dead end because he was too small a fish in that world. Jordan eventually contacted a supplier through a number of smart networks. At the beginning of 2018 it seemed that he was on his way to produce a much larger series of shirts until things fell apart. It became clear in June that the manufacturer was not going to train, which put him in a difficult position. His brand had gained some speed, but things went quiet.
Out of the blue he received a call from a consultant who had initially rejected him. He started his own store and took on new customers who were looking for smaller production runs. Jordan had to start all over again, but it was a much better fit, and he was finally able to produce the shirt he wanted and start shipping in December 2018.
All in all, Jordan told me that there were 25 iterations of the Tillinger polo. It was a long, nerve-racking journey in recent years full of setbacks. But he takes it all very closely and outlines it as a learning process.
The Tillinger Etiquette Polo
At the end of December I finally got my blue Tillinger Etiquette Polo. I have worn it five or six times in different circumstances. I played a hot, humid round of golf in South Florida, wearing it with my wife and in various other non-golf situations.
There are plenty of other companies trying to make the perfect polo, and I think Tillinger damn it.
Anyone who has ever tried to design something simple knows how difficult it is. I think this is the main feature of this shirt – it has a look that is versatile enough to make it casual or chic enough for multiple scenarios. It is neatly classic and modern, without being too loud. There is a little flair around the buttons to give it a character, but it is absent from any logo, so you are not a walking advertisement for the brand.
The substance can withstand the warmer conditions on the golf course. It has some stretch, sweat-wicking material and even UV protection. I wore it during a humid day in Florida, and I felt that it was lightweight enough and sufficiently comfortable for my freedom of movement while I was swinging.
In terms of fit I would say that it is more on the athletics side. Usually I am between a small and a medium. The average size seems to fit me well, because it fits a bit more than traditional golf polo's (which I feel I sometimes swim).
I have worn the shirt both in professional and casual clothing and I think the look works in both. You can wear it under a quarter-zipper to show off the pattern under the buttons, to put it in khaki's or jeans, or to get loose based on your style preferences. Moreover, the shirt can be used several times to go to the washing machine, which is proof of the quality of the material used.
There are only a few other companies that I have tried to create shirts like these that translate to the golf world, especially Criquet and Linksoul. I am very impressed that a solo entrepreneur without experience in the clothing industry could make such a versatile shirt that lives up to its hype.
What & # 39; s Next
The Tillinger polo is currently available in three colors on their website for $ 68. Jordan told me that in April three colors are coming. His goal is to continue to push Tillinger as a lifestyle polo brand with new designs and other cool accessories (look for a chapel from the pimento at The Masters).
The shirts are starting to get more attention in the industry. You can see a lot of positive testimonies on social media. Five Iron Golf worked with Tillinger to make an official shirt for their employees and Jordan said several other projects with other brands are in the works
I love the polo and I love this story. It is great to see that people like Jordan have their hearts and souls in casting a product as good as it can be. I am pretty sure that everyone who takes off the shirt will be impressed by its versatility, and wants to have a few more.
Tillinger polo & # 39; s can be bought here.
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