I hope this doesn’t come as a surprise, but since getting involved with Golf Starz, the best part of the job beside the golf is getting to meet the people behind the brands. I am extremely excited for this series of articles – I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did writing them.
How do you define success? Accolades? Name recognition? Doing what you love for a living? I think we all would define it differently, but success can take many different forms and fashions. We are going to take a little journey together. This is the first in a three-part series.
You may not know the name…yet. But we had the opportunity to sit down with Chris Bailey. In this first article, we are planning to dive into Chris Bailey…the person. The second article will share an exclusive look at his new company – Origin Golf Club. The third will highlight a cool space he and some others are creating in Portland.
So..here we go. We had the opportunity to sit down with Chris and his crew in Orlando during the PGA Show. What was supposed to be a couple beers and a small intro meeting turned into staying out way too late, sharing some awesome stories, and finding out we were more connected than we previously could have guessed. Chris was extremely approachable for a guy with his esteemed background, surprisingly humble and fun loving. Right away the first thing that strikes you when you talk to Chris is his unrelenting drive. There is a fire within him to bring ideas to life, to make something that is wearable art. It is refreshing to see someone have a drive and a vision that we all get to watch come to life. Chris was so easy to talk to. One of those people who can make a friend with anyone. It has honestly been an extreme pleasure to get to know him, learn what makes him tick and what inspires him.
Now let’s get into Chris’s background:
Chris was born and raised in England in a city called Sunderland. Sunderland is in the Tyne and Wear area of England (if you are anything like me, I had to look it up. I will save you the time – think Northeast tip of England, coastal). Sunderland is a blue-collar town, known for shipbuilding and coal mining. Growing up in a blue-collar town, Chris broke the mold and caught the fashion bug early and wanted to explore the fashion world. Like many others who make it in the fashion scene, Chris started working in retail. Chris became more obsessed with fashion immediately. He jokingly told us:
“I would earn my money and spend my money straight away on clothes. Like I would never have any money to like go out with or meet up with friend for drinks or anything because I would spend it on clothes. So I have always been into fashion and the culture of it.”
Studying art, a teacher would advise him early in his academic and professional career to look at going to school to study fashion, in essence broadening his portfolio. Chris took this advice and decided to study fashion and see if he could turn his prior experience in retail into something a little more creative. Little did he know at the time, taking the advice of this teacher would lead him on a path to work with the likes of Tiger Woods and the Jumpman himself, His Airness… Michael Jordan.
Chris graduated from University and started working for a company in London, then a local company in Newcastle. This is where he started to refine his skills and apply the knowledge he learned in University. Right away the company he worked for consulted and designed for brands such as Ted Baker, Alpha Industries and Barbour. After this, he moved on to a shirting company out of Midlands, where he took on some pretty big projects early on. In a way, really starting his career in the fashion world by baptism by fire. While he enjoyed the work, there was something missing. Chris always wanted to make the jump across the pond to the United States.
A short time after starting his career, Chris got a call from a college professor saying Abercrombie was in town looking for people. Chris decided to take the interview and was offered a job on site to be a designer for Abercrombie kids. This took him to beautiful Columbus, Ohio (authors note – we may be biased but Columbus is pretty dope…we grew up here and currently live here…Go Bucks!). Whilst living in Columbus Chris met his now wife Lucy – who is also in the industry. Then both moved to New York to help American Eagle launch their kids brand – spending about three years there. From there Chris made the trek back to the midwest, heading to Wisconsin to work for Kohl’s doing private label designing. Chris & his wife decided to move to the Pacific North West so that Lucy could further her career at Nike.
So all the career moves, all of these experiences allowed Chris to narrow his career into where he is now…the golf/sporting world.
After moving to Oregon, it took Chris a couple months to break in and start working for Nike. Starting his career at Nike within the Jordan Brand, Chris was tasked with designing sportswear focusing on the Legacy clothing line as well as collabs with brands such as Supreme and Public School. He also presented his creations to Michael Jordan multiple times a year. Listening to Chris explain the attention to detail on every piece was eye-opening. Imagine presenting ideas to the man you grew up idolizing – talk about intimidating. Chris would work through multiple iterations of an idea to combine Michael’s thoughts on the direction of the brand with his own creativity. Literally, putting Nike’s ethos to work and listening directly to the voice of the athletes, Chris was able to take his past design experience and marry it with his love of sports. He described his drive of wanting to move to America was largely influenced by the sports culture in the states – and growing up watching baseball and basketball. Chris didn’t just make the dream of moving to America come true but got to design clothing for the most iconic player and brand there is.
Chris was starting to make a name for himself at Nike and moved out to the men’s wear side of the Nike Golf. Working with golfers like Tiger, Rory, and Day (see everything come back to Columbus, Ohio) all the way down to web.com tour players; designing pieces, scripting the looks for golfers on tour. In my opinion, this was the time where he was really able to let loose and just design. Listening to him tell stories about sitting down with all the Nike Golf athletes were crazy. Absorbing what they were looking for in a piece while sticking true to the Nike Ethos of “listen to the voice of the athlete.” Having to account for why a certain player wanted even the slightest detail challenged Chris in a new way. Combining fashion with function, style with performance – he had to labor over every detail.
At Nike Golf, Chris was starting to not just design clothing, but he had a hand in influencing golf fashion. Introducing joggers, redesigning the way collars look, infusing fashion with on course wear. Pushing the traditional on-course style for some players but balancing personal style for guys like Rory, who tends to be more traditional. Part of the team that is designing and scripting everything from including flat bills and even infusing street fashion like when Finau wore the hoodie. Bringing the swagger Nike is known for on the court to the course. Bringing specialty curated lines to life all while designing the seasonal lines. Chris spent about three years with Nike Golf before deciding to venture out on his own. We asked him to describe some of his favorite pieces he has designed. Well, some of those are not public yet…so wait and see. The thing he was most proud of was the way he was able to redesign golf pants. Chris decided to turn the traditional golf pants into more of an athletic design adding more of an elastic waistband one you might expect to see on the inside of baseball pants. By doing this the pants were able to perform more and allow for more movability during the golf swing.
So that brings us to today. Chris left Nike Golf recently to start his own thing – Origin Golf. This move allows Chris to own and develop every single aspect of a piece. From concept to retail. An extreme amount of pressure for anyone, but with Chris’ background, he was destined to do this. Origin Golf is a space where companies can come together working collaboratively to bring new style for on and off the course. Think of a digital shopping mall, a one-stop shop where you can go and check out the newest in golf fashion. Origin also designs their own products and Chris serves as an advisor and creative genius behind some products from other companies. (More on Origin next time).
Chris’ journey has all come together like a well-conducted symphony. Different parts all on their own is just noise but when you bring them together, focused on one thing you make beautiful music. Chris’ career has to lead him to this point. Each job, each step a different instrument, building his symphony systemically. Chris spent time in retail learning the sales part of the business than working as a designer for a number of very well known companies across the spectrum. This allowed him to infuse different styles in one place. Working on a number of different collabs in the industry enabled him with the skills to marry two companies together, creating one cohesive piece while protecting each companies identity.
Chris’ story is amazing. His drive is infectious. We can all learn something from Chris. When you love something you work at it. You refine your skill. You harness your drive and at the end of the day, you keep grinding. While we could go on and on, we are really only scratching the surface. This is only the start for Chris. I am sure now that he is out on his own with no guard rails – just raw talent refined over the years – you will know his name soon enough. Everyone can thank him for taking the risk to make the jump on his own, bringing some new blood in the golf fashion world. We are excited he let us tell his story and the story behind what is up to next.
It’s funny how one piece of advice leads Chris down this path that would forever change golf fashion for the better. Infuse “street” wear on the course. If his old teacher is still around, someone let us know. We owe her a “pint.”
Connect with Chris and give him a follow:
Creative Drive PDX:
Couple golf facts about Chris:
All time: Seve Ballesteros
Current: Brooks Koepka / Tommy Fleetwood
Favorite Club to Hit:
Favorite Course in Portland:
Wildwood Golf Course – 30 mins North of Portland. For the pure fun factor I can wear a tee, drink a beer or two with mates and not care about rules.
Current Clubs in the Bag:
Epic Flash Driver and 3 wood, M2 3 & 4 Hybrids, Taylormade P790 Irons, Vokey 56 & 60 wedges, Ping Anser Copper Putter – Custom Origin Golf Mackenzie Bag with Leus Towel
Best Course Ever Played:
Royal Melbourne. Alister Mackenzie design – known for his simple architecture but all about the right placement.
Justin Timberlake, James Corden, Michael Jordan. Maybe we will have “cartpool” Karaoke
**Photo’s provided by Chris Bailey and Max Reinland **
Story was written based on interviews with Chris Bailey.