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Here at Off The Tee (OTT), we are extremely pleased to be working closely with Tony Q’aja, as we launch the first collection of athleisure wear products.
Tony is the Founder of Q’aja Golf & Managing Director of The Clubhouse Exclusive. Q’aja is best known as the tailor who reinvented Darren Clarke’s total look on and off the golf course, and has styled numerous sportsman and entertainers over the years. He has been praised for the classy and stylish designs provided with his own fashion brand.
In his recent interview with Golf News, Tony gave his insights on the development of golf fashion over the years, and even gave OTT a shoutout. The early recognition from a popular figure in the fashion industry is a huge compliment.
Keep reading to see what Tony had to say about where the golf fashion industry is headed:
Golf News: Welcome Tony, so pleased to get your insight into golf fashion and how it has changed over the years.
Tony: Pleasure Matt. Yes, golf certainly has gone through some interesting phases.
Golf News: I still remember the impact you had in 2001 with the now famous V slits on the trouser hems!
Tony: I guess it will be remembered for 3 things, the V slits along with the marker pocket and the single flap back pocket brought about the first actual golf trouser!
Golf News: What do you mean?
Tony: My first golf client Darren Clarke, to my astonishment told me all golfers just bought normal trousers from high street to play golf in. So once I studied the sport for 2 weeks, I created these design innovations to give functionality to trousers that was specific for golf!
So the slits to make the front hem drape neatly across the shoe, the marker pocket away from main pocket so easy quick access to your marker, the non buttoning back pockets so gloves can go in and out easier, the flap to protect the scorecard / yardage book.
Golf News: Yes I remember even the late Peter Alliss talking during commentary about these features along with the colour of garments that had made his job interesting again.
Golf News: Yes, along with the 2nd famous golf look. JL brought the funky belt which everybody wore as well as his fitted bright shirts and trousers!
Golf News: And thirdly?
Tony: Thirdly was actually colour coordination. Most golfers I styled only received jumpers, polos and caps from sponsors. So no trousers and to be honest when I would open the boxes in players houses, they would lay everything on the bed and ask “So what on Earth do I wear with what?”
To say it was a “Dogs Dinner” is an understatement!
Golf News: So you put the outfits together for them?
Tony: In a nutshell, yes. I would make trousers that would pick up either the colour of polo or jumper and list what for them the outfit.
Golf News: OMG, and does that still happen?
Tony: Well fortunately, I must have done a decent job as they are much sharper nowadays. Also most brands since those days have designers to create outfits rather than individual items.
Golf News: So 2022, where do you feel golf and fashion are at?
Tony: Every industry needs characters, characters that make that industry interesting for its consumers. I feel golf is going through a phase again where I found it, lame.
Golf News: What do you mean?
Tony: Fashion, individuality, adventure are missing in the players. Golfers are now machines, athletes with no time to express themselves or to create a persona that makes them appealing to the consumers.
Early millennium, you had the cigar smoking Darren Clarke, the colourful Poulter, the charismatic Jiminez, no fear Mickelson and many others! Golf had gone from the broadsheets to the back pages of tabloids. That was the popularity of the players which was good for the sport.
Now, it’s gone back to the broadsheets as there are no characters to write about, no funky outfits to have pictures of.
Golf News: What’s happened to the fashion?
Tony: Unfortunately, it’s a tough business which when you have powerful organisations with deep pockets controlling nearly 50% of the market and its ambassadors, the individuality/character disappears.
Golf News: So is this why you took a back seat for the last decade?
Tony: Sadly, personal situations took me away from business.
Golf News: My condolences for the loss of your mum.
Tony: Thank you, she was my rock. So it’s taken time to regain my mental and creative strength.
Golf News: So what’s next for Q’aja?
Tony: Well, I had much time to reflect on the industry as a whole.
I cannot compete with the conglomerates, so a focus has gone into the golf events industry along with the new era of Entertainment Golf!
Golf News: Entertainment Golf?
Tony: I have always had interest in the next phases of industries, so golf over the last 12 years has been evolving for the new generation. The digital generation as I call them.
Top Golf, BigShots Golf, PopStroke etc are catering for a golf experience that the family can experience together.
Golf News: You are right, we here at GN hear of the rapid growth in this arena.
Tony: I feel I can be much more creative with my fashion in this space.
Golf News: Is it true you are now mentoring new designers?
Tony: That’s correct. Over the years I have built a wealth of knowledge and contacts across all aspects of sport and fashion which I had to learn the hard way on my own. So I feel if I can help young designers onto the right pathway and avoid the pitfalls that inevitably can destroy business as well as individuals, then I will have given back to the industry that created me!
Golf News: Anything in particular that we should look out for?
Tony: I am working with a young designer Tyler Wait, who has a vision of the modern Entertainment Golfer we referred to. So we are developing a range that can be worn in a traditional golf club or the modern indoor Top Golf situations or even with a pair of beach shorts on holiday!
Golf News: you’ll have to let us know when it launches.
Tony: Of course, I’ll invite you to the press showing so you can cover it.
Golf News: Does the brand have a name?
Tony: Yes, Off The Tee (OTT) Watch this space!