Malbon Golf Launches Its First Women’s Collection
Malbon Golf’s debut women’s apparel collection is like a breath of fresh ocean air for the (fashion) game, and it’s hitting just in time for the U.S. Women’s Open’s first-ever appearance in Pebble Beach, July 6-9. Featuring the brand’s signature playful attitude, the line is a smart take on the sport’s style. With modern twists on traditional silhouettes, cool colorways and tech fabrications—think pleated skirts and skorts, polo dresses, a satin bomber jacket and an oversized sweater vest, in prices ranging from $50 to $270—to take you from the course to the coffee shop, and everywhere in between. The celeb-loved brand’s founders, Erica and Stephen Malbon live in Carmel, where they opened a jewel box store late last year. For the U.S. Open, they’ll host a number of events, including one with locally-born pro Mina Harigae benefitting her alma mater, Stevenson School. (Look for Harigae in Malbon apparel as she aims to win the tournament, and read more about her own success story here.) Fresh off promoting the brand in Japan and Korea, Erica spoke to us about the women’s launch, Malbon’s mission to engage youth in the game, and a week of exciting events in Carmel.
Tell us about the thought behind the women’s collection.
We started working on the collection roughly two years ago, knowing that women are a growing demographic in the space. It’s been one of our biggest requests. It's something that's been really close to my heart and something I've personally been invested in. We've done bits and pieces of women's products, and we have a women's offering in Korea, which is one of our biggest markets. But we haven't had it in the United States before. We’re excited to see it come to life.
What do you have planned for the launch in Carmel?
We're going to be doing a women's takeover of all of our retail locations to launch the collection. In Carmel, we'll have the women's product solely displayed during the U.S. Open in Pebble Beach.
Is anyone in the U.S. Open wearing the collection?
We did a collaboration with Mina Harigae. She'll be wearing some of the new products and we have an event with her benefitting Stevenson School. Mina is an alum there, so we wanted to create something that could spotlight her relationship to the community, as well as our relationship to the community. We have product that’s embellished with both Stevenson and Malbon that’s for sale at the Carmel store.
What are your favorite pieces from the women’s collection?
I can't choose. It's like a child. I love them all. We were inspired by the heritage of the sport and some of the more traditional silhouettes that still have relevance today, but we were able to use more modern and more playful colors and fabrications to bring them into today's world. Our thing was, how do we blend comfort and style and make sure that they're functional, but also versatile and something you feel comfortable wearing on and off the course?
Right, because a lot of people wear them purely as lifestyle or fashion pieces, too.
Exactly. Where's the line between golf apparel and lifestyle apparel? It’s crossing over. You see all the athleisure pieces and people wearing workout clothes to run errands and go about their day, so if we can create products that people want to wear to play golf and also feel comfortable wearing to pick up their kids from school or to go to work, then it makes sense. It makes life a little bit easier.
How have you seen women's golf fashion evolve? Are restrictions loosening on what people can wear?
It depends on the course you're playing. At Cypress, women can't wear a skirt, but at Pebble Beach they can. As a brand, we're thinking about updating what that perception is in terms of fashion for women playing golf. Women are growing so quickly as a demographic in the sport, so it's important to make sure we're catering to younger players and those who want to feel like they have their own personal sense of style.
Tell us about your own golf journey.
My dad was a big golfer, so I was always exposed to the sport. As a child I took lessons. I understood the culture and the traditions and the lifestyle. When my husband and I first met, he didn't really play. He grew up playing but he had taken a long hiatus. Once we had kids, we started playing as a family and picked it back up. Stephen’s definitely inspired me to dedicate more time to improving my game.
How did your experience influence the collection?
From a design standpoint, I created what I would love to see for myself on the course. That was really our starting point. I worked very closely through the fittings and the sampling process to make sure that these are things that I feel proud of for myself, and that hopefully everyone else feels the same way when they're wearing it.
Have you encouraged friends to join the sport as well?
It's really important for me to cultivate a group of people that are fun to play with, and to expose the sport and teach friends who don't play how fun it can be. It’s not coming from somebody who's a professional athlete but somebody who is a recreational golfer, loves the lifestyle, and wants to improve—but also wants to have fun and have a great experience with the sport. I think it can be very intimidating without a friendly introduction, and that's something that we're focused on is taking that intimidation out of it and exposing it in a way that feels approachable.
You’ve been bringing a younger element to the game, with celeb fans and influencers. Can you speak to the brand's goals of engaging youth?
Our mission has always been to inspire young people to participate in the game. All of our relationships are authentic with friends of the brand that are aligned in our mission, and that's true in everything we do. How do we look at the sport and how do we inspire younger people, specifically, to take interest in it? When it comes to influencers or people that have a prominent voice in certain communities, they are able to highlight and broadcast the messaging to their fans and their communities, and that's something that is beneficial for our mission and for the game as well.
Do your own kids play?
Our younger son, Remy, I think he had a club in his hand in our backyard at age two. Our kids just started coming along and having fun in the golf cart, spending time outdoors, running after the ball, just making it something that isn't so serious and something that’s fun. Now we make that our thing. Every week we go out and putt around and spend time together. Everyone will have their own relationship with the game—how far they want to take it, if they want to be competitive, if they want to just do it for fun—but I think all relationships with the game are positive. It’s a family-friendly sport. It's something you can do with your friends, with your kids, with your spouse, and make that into a tradition that brings everyone together. <img src="https://assets-global.website-files.com/6457f19f1c1e1601e2c9c3f6/6487a9355b63a6818c705cea_CC-Icon--20.svg"alt="CC"height="20" width="20">