NEW YORK — Answering a call to modernize its golfwear and update its brand, Bobby Jones has tapped Christian Arkins to serve as its new men’s wear director of design. A former designer for Original Penguin, Arkins comes to the label, owned by Hickey Freeman Co., with eight years of experience and an eye for youthful sportswear.
He succeeds Billy Draddy, who left the company to join Ralph Lauren’s golf and tennis division.
“We’re at a crossroads where we need to move this brand forward,” said Paulette Garafalo, group president and chief operating officer of Hickey Freeman and Bobby Jones. “As a luxury American sportswear brand, we need to modernize our appeal.”
But golfers shouldn’t expect to see Penguin’s hip prepster aesthetic. Garafalo said Arkins, who in addition to design will oversee all aspects of sourcing and merchandising, will help evolve fit as well as add more technical components to its luxury fabrics. His influence will start to be seen as early as next summer with a full impact by fall 2008. “We’re not moving away from our core customer,” Garafalo stressed.
The hire is part of a larger initiative to update the Bobby Jones brand as golf styles continue to trend younger. The company has hired the Yard ad agency, whose clients include John Varvatos, LeSportsac and Converse, to revamp its marketing, and has made additional hires in its internal sales and marketing teams. A new direct-mail campaign, the first under Yard’s direction, will launch this fall, followed by a print campaign in spring 2008.
“We want all our brands to have appeal from a fashion perspective,” Garafalo said.