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Knickers Anyone?

Payne Stewart has joined the revered short list of golf legends who have an apparel brand named for them.

ATLANTA (June 11, 2007) — Payne Stewart has joined the revered short list of golf legends who have an apparel brand named for them

The Payne Stewart Collection, which will launch in department stores and major sporting goods stores in spring 2008, is a comprehensive men’s wear collection of knit tops, slacks and shorts, outerwear and sweatshirts targeted to baby boomers. It will preview in June during market week. Garan Inc., a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, is developing and manufacturing the collection.

Stewart, who died in a plane crash in 1999 at age 42, was known for his signature style on the golf course. He dressed in knickers or plus fours, a tam-o’-shanter hat and colorful shirts. Larry Reiner, vice-president of Garan with responsibility for the Payne Stewart Collection initiative, said of Stewart, “He’s probably the only fashion icon in the history of golf. He loved the heritage of the game and he added his own dimension of bright colors. Even from a 100 yards away [on a golf course], you would know it was him, which made him iconic.”

Garan targeted baby boomers for the collection because they’re a group that’s mainly overlooked by the fashion industry, according to Reiner. “We believe the baby boomers have been largely neglected and we want to offer them something different,” he said. Prices are moderate, ranging from $35 to $65 at retail, but at a quality level of higher-priced golf brands. “We call it affordable luxury,” said Reiner. “It’s an opportunity in retail to serve this customer with fashion at a value.”

The collection, which Garan describes as lifestyle apparel inspired by Payne Stewart, includes knit shirts made of performance polyester (solids, yarn-dyed stripes, color-blocked fabrics), double-mercerized cotton jersey (solids, yarn-dyed stripes and jacquards) and cotton piqués (solids and prints). Shorts and slacks are made of microfiber polyester, except for one seersucker cotton/polyester blend, and the sweatshirts, which Reiner described as “an alternative to sweaters,” are made of super-combed cotton. All shirts and slacks have moisture wicking. Reiner said Garan expects the sweatshirt, offered in crewneck and zip styles, and in prints and solids, to be “a major success by itself.”

Jackets and outerwear vests are wind- and water-resistant, made of microfiber polyester, and are color-coordinated to all of the apparel collection groupings.

The brand will have four to six groupings of apparel in different colorways for spring, and may have that many for fall 2008, Reiner said.

The collection shows Garan’s attention to detail and quality, including the Payne Stewart label, which incorporates Stewart’s signature. The logo is a silhouette of Stewart himself.

Stewart won 11 PGA Tour events, including the 1989 PGA Championship and the U.S. Open in 1991 and 1999. “Seven years after his death, [Stewart] is still very much alive,” Reiner said. For example, a Payne Stewart award is given each year by the PGA Tour to the player who best represents Stewart’s ideals (professionalism, presentation, character, community work and charity); a statue of him was recently unveiled at the Coyote Hills Golf Club in Fullerton, Calif., and the Payne Stewart Golf Club is scheduled to open next spring in Branson, Mo.

Garan said it was approached by the Stewart family because Stewart and his agent and friend, Robert Farley, who also died in the crash, shared an admiration for Warren Buffet and the companies he owns.