Women weren’t part of the plan when Loudmouth launched its blinding brand of golf pants back in 2000. Now, wearing shorts, skorts and capris, they account for 20 percent of apparel sales and the company hopes they’re an even bigger part of the future.
We caught up with the chief Loudmouth last week. Scott “Woody” Woodworth was, as usual, trying to come up with the kinds of patterns that make people stop and stare at — or at least make conversation with — Loudmouth wearers.
He took time out for a chat with GottaGoGolf. Of course we had a few giggles.
GGG: What have you learned about women golfers and the women’s clothing market during your 16 years in the business?
WOODY: We started out just buying stuff off the rack, and sent it to our manufacturer. Being that we were doing stuff for men, we thought that was all there was going to be to it. But we started getting complaints about the fit and so forth, so we hired a real tech fit person who is a woman who makes all of our stuff for women, and now it’s all great.
So we learned that a guy will just throw on a pair of pants and say oh, this looks good, but a woman will not do that. And good for you guys.
GGG: What do we do?
WOODY: You put it on and say ‘Oh, this makes this look big,’ or, ‘Honey, do these things make me look fat?’ That’s the old joke, right? But it needs to fit women well. It needs to flatter you all and make you look good. But men’s pants, if you look at a pair of men’s shorts, it’s just two big tubes you throw on, right?
WOODY: Yeah, as long as they’re comfortable and they look fine, you’re good to go. But women are particular. And I’m happy that they made us get off the stick and make stuff right.
GGG: And I should say I have a pair of shorts in Lounge Lizard, and my husband loves them on me, and a skort in Drop Cloth. I like wearing them because they are ice-breakers. Some clothes you wear and you’re going to make friends because people comment.
WOODY: That’s what they’re all about. And by the way you can thank Dolin (O’Shea), our excellent tech person, who comes from the Gap (Old Navy). That’s why those Lounge Lizards fit you so well. She’s even written books about making your own clothes.
GGG: What patterns have been your most popular with women, and how is that different with the guys?
WOODY: The most popular patterns are the same most popular patterns for guys and gals. You might think that pink would catch on with the women and not so much with the guys, but it’s almost just the opposite. Because the reason Loudmouth exists is for guys to wear pants that they wouldn’t normally wear. And make them as outrageous as possible. Believe it or not, our wildest pants for men are the most popular and the tamest ones are the least popular.
GGG: That said, do you have one or two patterns that have been your bestsellers historically?
WOODY: Yeah. Historically our bestseller, going back years and years, was one of our wildest, Disco Ball. I would test people and say, hey what do you think (is our bestseller) and they’d pick something middle of the road – meaning middle of the Loudmouth road, not middle of the road road – and I’d say, ‘No, it’s Disco Ball,’ they wouldn’t believe it. Then of course Paint Ball and Drop Cloth. They were so great that we came out with another one this year called Spray Paint that has the blue background and the paint spatters.
Whenever we feature booze or martinis, people like that too.
Usually we have a pinup girl design each year, which is of course popular with the men BUT they’re almost just as popular with women. Like Aloha Girls, for example. When I brought that in, the girls in the shipping department were opening boxes and putting them in inventory and updating the website, and one of them came to me and said, ‘Woody do you realize you have Aloha Girls in short and skort for women? Was that a mistake?’ And I said, ‘No, no, that’s what we planned.’ She said, ‘Well, what
woman’s going to want to wear that?’ I said, ‘You just wait.’ And we probably sold equal amounts of Aloha Girls to men and to women.
GGG: How do you explain that?
WOODY: I don’t know, I don’t think the same would be the case if we had pinup men. For some reason I don’t think it would go the other way.
GGG: I guess women want to flaunt their womanhood. Do you have any plans for beefcake guys?
WOODY: Yeah, like construction workers that don’t have shirts on? I don’t know if we could do that. It would be funny though. Let me ask you, would you be interested in something like that?
WOODY: Yeah, see, it’s just a little bit different. Cowboys with the vest and no shirt?
GGG: People with a sense of humor probably would do it. Do colors make a difference in sales?
WOODY: No, we use a whole rainbow of colors all the time.
GGG: Have you had any bombs?
WOODY: Oh gosh, I’ve got to answer that?
GGG: You don’t have to answer it.
WOODY: It might be the only thing people remember reading.
GGG: Oh, they’ll probably remember the beefcake guys.
WOODY: Well, if I do the same thing over and over again, it’ll get tired, right?
GGG: Of course.
WOODY: So I’ve got to experiment. I go this way, I go that way, see if they’re successful and then that gives me another avenue to follow up. But they can’t all be successful. I wish they could be.
But some of them I am surprised that guys didn’t like it – and I am talking guys now – like Couch Potato. I designed those to be sort of quote-unquote ugly pants, which is sort of the premise of the whole thing. I thought the right guys and the right women for that matter would say wow, those are really obnoxiously ugly. But even though those pants are super-super wild, our customers sort of have their own discerning Loudmouth taste and want to be able to say, hey, these are wild but they’re not necessarily ugly. So the ones I design to be wild and just plain ugly, they didn’t go over so well.
There are some designs in the office we love, think they’re great, a slam dunk, they are going to be IT, just a big hit – like the Graffiti one, I call it the Tag, didn’t sell as well as we thought, even though they’re great-looking pants. Sometimes they don’t come across as well on the website, in a photo that’s only 2 or 3 inches tall, as they do in real life. We hear that a lot – ‘Oh, I didn’t know they were going to look so good.’
GGG: What strikes me about the pieces I have, I really love the fabric.
WOODY: It’s cotton, a fabric that we sourced a long time ago. I put these on and I feel like I’m just walking around on air. It’s soft. It’s not high-tech, although we do have a high-tech fabric coming out now too in the Woodworth collection, that’s going to be 100 percent poly, and that’s going to be great also – comfortable but wrinkle-free and fade-free.
Sometimes we’re set up on a golf course during a tournament with a dressing room on the fifth hole for charity, we’ll say, ‘Hey, you can have these pants as long as you put them on now.’ Some guys wouldn’t do it, shame on them. Some guys who are on the fence say, ‘OK, I’ll try them on.’ And the first thing they say when they come out of the dressing room isn’t, ‘Wow, these things are wild,’ it’s, ‘These things are comfortable.’ We pride ourselves on that.
I can’t say there is anything special about the cotton, but that’s what people say most.
GGG: You have a little stretch in there too.
WOODY: A little stretch, the 3 percent Lycra. Because we’ve got to bend over and take our ball out of the cup after we make a putt.
GGG: Hopefully. Unless we’re just doing gimmes all day.
WOODY: Gimmes all day with the putter that you can just scoop the ball up.
GGG: Well there’s that. Tell me about the typical Loudmouth woman wearer.
WOODY: We have young women … high school girls that wear our stuff. And out of the blue yesterday we got a call from Patty Sheehan, who wants a pair of women’s golf knickers. I don’t want to use the word old, but, yes, we have young and old and everything in between – evenly spread, I think. We’re going to make a pair for her, yes.
GGG: That could start a whole new trend.
WOODY: We haven’t had a lot of requests for it. Do you wear knickers golfing? No. Well, there you go. For Patty Sheehan, it’s sort of a signature. Who knows, once she’s walking around in them we may get more requests.
GGG: So for women basically you have short, skort and capri. Do you also have slacks?
WOODY: Yes, we do have flared slacks, we have straight slacks. And they can either be a low-rise jeans fit with five pockets and rivets or a more normal sort of mid-rise pant. We’re just rolling that out for made-to-order, we’re not going to stock all that.
GGG: How would somebody get that?
WOODY: You go to our website to the made-to-order section, pick your size (00-18) and then pick your own length (14 to 38-inch inseam), and your style flared or straight, and either the jeans style (a snug fit) or the classic mid-rise style (a more relaxed fit).
GGG: Are you still thinking that’s for golfers or are you hoping for a broader reach?
WOODY: Definitely a broader reach. The classic style is called the classic style with “golf” in parentheses, which you could wear anywhere. And then there’s the city style, we’re calling it, for lifestyle.
GGG: So you gave me a few clues about this last topic, which is what’s ahead and whether you see any trends or places you want to take Loudmouth that you haven’t yet.
WOODY: Well, we sort of go the opposite way of trends. I just come up with anything I want that I think will look wild. I don’t really look to see what is this year’s buzz Pantone color. I like to make it all wild all the time.
But for trends, we need to talk people into going to parties and social functions like this – not just go out on the golf course like this. Now for women, that’s a little more difficult because you wear a skort or shorts golfing, but when you go out to eat with your friends, you wear something completely different. There are so many silhouettes for women that men just don’t have. Men can either wear shorts or pants, that’s it. A woman can wear a skirt, a dress, capris, shorts, long pants, flared, it goes on and on. So we need to start someplace, and I think we’re starting with the pants we mentioned, or mini-shorts that you can wear to a picnic.
GGG: So it sounds like you’re hoping women will take you to the next level.
WOODY: Women are forcing us to think harder, yeah. And that’s a good thing. Make us work harder, give them what they want. Guys don’t care.
GGG: Guys are more conservative in golf. I don’t think women mostly are. Women who play golf like different clothes and want to be seen as individuals, perhaps more than men do.
WOODY: I agree with that. When we weren’t doing women’s, perhaps a third of our customer service calls were asking, ‘Hey, what gives, how come you aren’t doing this for women?’ Way back when, the reason was that I was asking men to go out on a limb to wear such loud, in many cases pink, pants. I just didn’t want that guy to go to a golf course and see a woman wearing that same pair of pink pants that I had finally talked this guy into wearing and now he thinks. ‘Oh no, I’m wearing women’s wear.’ That’s why there was a gap. I wanted to make sure guys knew these were for having fun, not gender-bending. After that was established we were ready to roll out women’s clothes.
I think ladies who play golf are tougher and like to have more fun and are … how can I put this the right way … less prissy and ladylike. They’re outside, they’re hitting a ball hard, they’re getting dirty, they’re walking in sand. I just think they’re just a little bit tougher breed and I think they like to show that the way they dress.
GGG: That’s a fair comment. I should tell you the one thing we hear whenever we do a fashion story is from the larger ladies, ‘Why doesn’t that come in my size?’ They don’t want to be wallflowers.
WOODY: We go all the way up to 18. And after that, there’s made to order, man or woman, if you’re willing to wait three weeks, that’s all it takes.
GGG: Good, there you go.
WOODY: Made-to-order is really a good business for us. It would be impossible to stock all women’s and men’s styles in all fabrics and sizes.
GGG: Any final thoughts?
WOODY: We hope lots of women play lots more golf. I hope their daughters go out and play. It’s the same for men. We need golf to be more popular. We’re trying to help golf be more fun. Get outside. Don’t play video games. Get some fresh air, wear wild stuff and make more friends.
GGG: We’re with you there.