Its been said that clothes make the man. But it can also be argued that the man makes the clothes. The story of the G-Mac by Kartel collection is a tale of both. Karl Swan, managing director of Kartel Clothing, was interested in building the company’s golf line but was looking for someone to help. Graeme McDowell’s business manager contacted him since G-Mac was wearing some of the company’s products. This was back in mid 2011 and Swan wasn’t sure what he would think of his fellow Irishman. “I had no idea I would like him so much,” Swan confessed. “He is a down to earth, regular guy who has a passion for clothing that includes nitty gritty details such as fabrics and measuring. He is more into detail than I would have thought.”
Kartel is part of John Swan Ltd, a family owned Irish business based in Dublin, Ireland, founded in 1947. John Swan, Karl’s grandfather, set up his own modest clothing company in two small rooms above a pub in Dublin’s Hill Street. His grandson, Karl was interested in building out the brand into golf and was looking for a solution. McDowell appears be his answer. The two met at the 2011 Irish Open in Killarney and discussed the idea of launching a clothing line. Swan said McDowell requested Kartel put together three outfits and he would visit the company’s showroom to see whether it was right for him. “I didn’t want just three outfits,” Swan said, “I wanted a brand.” He said the biggest challenge was finding something that really could be marketed. “We looked into Graeme’s genealogy and went back to the 12th Century,” Swan explained. “His ancestors helped to lead Scotland to its independence over the English. There was strong symbolism in his family of a warrior, strength and skill which are all the qualities that Graeme himself shows in his play.”
When it came time for McDowell to see what Kartel came up with, Swan said he knew the company was being auditioned against other more notable competition. “We couldn’t afford to write a check the way the others could,” Swan said in trying to secure McDowell to represent the company. The competition would have to be waged through the product if Kartel was to be successful. “He mainly listened and excused himself and his two business managers to another room to discuss our presentation,” Swan said. “He came back and said we wiped the floor compared to the others. I couldn’t have wished for a better reaction. He turned and asked Conor (Ridge his manager) to work out a deal and said ‘and Conor you better work out a deal.’” Swan recalled. Thus collaboration was born.
The G-Mac by Kartel collection has been designed specifically to have a stylish, sophisticated, luxury upmarket feel. The logo incorporates the McDowell family crest and their motto ‘Vincere Vel Mori’ – Win or Die. It conveys their life and death struggle to be free and true to their beliefs. The spirit of these words are what Graeme lives by; he believes that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing to the best of your ability, and it is that project, practice session or tournament is entered with commitment, determination and belief! The lions paw holding a short dagger, relates to the McDowell skillful, powerful warrior. The McDowell clan fought on foot and with short swords, despite the fact that their adversaries rode on horseback with long swords. They believed that the strength was in the warrior, not the weapon. An acorn within the logo conveys strength (from the mighty oak tree) and the bell heather motif is a reference to the flower that was worn by the clansmen. All of these symbols point toward the skill, strength, will and determination possessed by the McDowell clan, as well as centuries later, the same traits that were required by G-Mac with his US Open win, as well as the Ryder Cup with Europe. McDowell explains his past in a video, http://vimeo.com/37912997 that he proudly wears today.
“We are a family operated business,” Swan explained, “and we take a long term view. We don’t have to answer to a board of directors or shareholders looking at it strictly for a return on investment or dividend check. Our relationship with Graeme is a big branding exercise.” McDowell helps to accelerate the introduction of Kartel to golf fans and Kartel has a role in brand G-Mac. “I take a firm view that we present him in a good light. All of these guys on TOUR are brands. Our investment is front loaded and our early return is awareness.”
G-Mac is a true believer when you look and feel your best that you will perform to your best. In other words the clothes help to make the man. With the help from Kartel some of the finest Italian, Spanish and Scottish wools, merged with the best of Asian technology, have together created a full collection of the luxurious and stylish performance based apparel. The collection is authentic to McDowell and to the mostly warmer climates where he plays his golf and so it has been designed predominantly with the lightest, most performance enhancing yarns and fabrics available. There is an inclusion of the outer layers for those occasions when the cooler weather requires Pima or Cashmere knits.
The G-Mac by Kartel brand is in upscale shops and perhaps eventually, Swan said, “In better end department stores. If we do our job right it will be a stock brand.” In that respect the man helps to make the clothes.