Eye-catching patterns and hidden nods to Bill Murray movies have made William Murray Golf a success since it hit links across the country in 2016.
Now the brand, known for its exploded plaids and argyles and prints of critters and high-ball glasses, is bringing that same irreverent message to women.
On April 5, William Murray Golf will launch its inaugural collection specifically targeted to females. The line will feature classic silhouettes in skirts, polos, dresses, jackets and accessories in patterns and solids in performance fabrics that can also been worn for other sports — or just out to lunch.
Kerry Michaels, chief executive officer of William Murray Golf, said the brand has been working on the women’s collection for some two years to ensure that the fit and aesthetic are right. And with the growing popularity of golf since the pandemic — especially among women — she and cofounder and president Brandon Barrett believe now is the right time to bring the collection to life.
Michaels and Barrett were both working for The Chive, a website owned and operated by Resignation Media, that showcases humorous pictures, memes and videos. The brand had been selling T-shirts with Bill Murray’s face on them and it sparked an idea.
Like Murray, who is an avid golfer who has won the Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament and has been inducted, along with his five brothers, into the Caddie Hall of Fame, Michaels and Barrett were both golf fans.
They cooked up the idea of launching a brand with the “Caddyshack” actor and set out to get their idea in front of him. It was during the Caddyshack Charity Golf Tournament in St. Augustine, Fla., an annual event hosted by the Murray brothers, that they snagged Joel Murray, the youngest of the six brothers, and presented him with the idea. He liked it and said he’d talk to his brother Bill about it. It took more than a year, but the Murrays signed on and William Murray was born.
Its logo is an invisible man illustration of Bill Murray tossing a club into the air after an errant shot, and the brand’s tag line is “Show Up and Stand Out.”
The Chive spun the business off five and a half years ago, and Michaels and Barrett have been running it since then. They lined up some deep-pocketed angel investors including Andy Roddick, Brooklyn Decker, Kendra Scott, Jake Owen, Tom Ricketts and others in 2017.
“We’ve been very successful with sales doubling every year since we started,” Michaels said of the Austin, Texas-based business with its 17 employees.
The Murray family, while an inspiration to the brand, doesn’t have day-to-day involvement. Instead, Michaels and her design team will come up with ideas for one of the four seasonal collections and “then engage with the Murray family,” Barrett said. “From the standpoint of inspiration and storytelling, they’re very involved,” he said, particularly Joel Murray.
Since the launch, the printed polos have been the bestselling item for the brand, but it also offers performance button-downs, pants, shorts, pullovers, board shorts and even blazers. Prints are more popular than solids, and the silhouettes are sophisticated enough to wear anywhere.
Michaels said the pandemic fueled fervent interest in golf, which was one of the only sports safe to play at the onset of the health crisis, and it attracted more women and children. “Women are the fastest-growing demographic in the sport,” she said, “and they email us all the time asking when we’re going to make something for them.”
On top of that, 40 percent of the customers of the William Murray Golf men’s line are female, “so it’s a big investment, but we decided to take the plunge,” she said.
She said she’s “very bullish” about the prospects for the women’s collection and believes it can eventually surpass men’s in terms of volume for the company. “That’s the goal,” she said of the line that she described as “feminine but sporty.”
Prices will range from $45 for shorts that can worn under dresses to $105 for the Chip Shot quarter-zip and $128 for a sleeveless dress with vintage styling. Sizes will range from extra-small to XXL. For the launch collection, the prints have been adapted from the men’s line but women’s-specific prints will be created for spring 2023, they said.
Initially, the collection will be sold on the William Murray website as well as at a handful of big-box stores that carry the men’s line. Green-grass golf shops will be added to the mix in the future.
Although the Murray name is on the collection, the notoriously elusive Bill Murray marches to his own beat and doesn’t actively promote the brand. But he will wear the collection from time to time and is featured in photos on the website wearing wildly patterned shirts and sipping beer alongside his siblings.
Not surprisingly, they look like they’re having fun, which is just the message William Murray Golf is trying to get across.
Michaels summed it up this way: “We want to break up this industry and make it more fun and whimsical.”