Green has always been that place where memories are made by a missed or made 15-footer for birdie, or in the case of golf apparel, green may be the hot colour for the coming season, but the word is taking on a new meaning in a game dominated by green, just as it is in the rest of the world.
The bubbly Nancy Haley is rarely without a smile, but the chief executive officer of Tehama says she is serious about apparel made with the environment in mind, while offering a technical story to provide comfort and style on the golf course.
“Everybody wants a shirt that works now. Some people just like pretty shirts, but most of the consumers now are a lot more demanding,” she said of the recent trend towards technical apparel.
“What is this shirt going to do for me? Is it going to keep me cool? Is it going to keep me warm? They have a high expectation for a shirt that actually functions,” added Haley, who has taken that level of expectation to a new level with the introduction of Tehama Green, which is designed to be environment-friendly.
It’s not easy being green, according to Haley, who spent more than a year researching the possibilities of greenwear and given her credentials, including this year’s PGA of America’s Ernie Sabayrac Award for lifetime achievement in the golf industy, it’s difficult to dismiss it as a passing fad. Other companies are going in the same direction.
“What’s really great about this is that this is just the beginning because this is a part of a lifestyle,” said Haley, who launched Sport-Haley in 1986, took it public in 1992 and left four years later, allegedly to retire.
Shortly afterwards, she and her husband Tony were socializing with Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood, an avid golfer who asked about her future plans. To make a long story short, Haley launched Tehama in 1997 with Eastwood as her partner and her reputation for innovation continues with the green products.
“People are worried about their energy. They’re worried about gas consumption. They’re worried about everything in their life and clothing is an enormous part of your life,” she said.
“I think that this is just the start because, within the next five years, I think it’s going to be the norm. I don’t think you’re going to have to talk about eco-clothes or recyclable clothes. I think it’s just going to be something that people expect. It’s just going to be everywhere.”
Of course, a natural product such as cotton is standard in apparel, golf or otherwise, but others such as bamboo are becoming increasingly popular for their desirable qualities.
“(Bamboo) is very, very soft. That’s the property about bamboo and it’s also anti-microbial — it helps controls body odor, but he best thing about bamboo is how soft it is,” said Haley.
While natural products such as cotton and bamboo offer one way to environment-friendly apparel, the recycling trend is also opening up new possibilities. Haley has discovered that recycled plastic bottles also help the cause.
“This is cool,” she said. “They remove all the caps and they take all the labels off and they sort the bottles by colour. They squish the bottles into big cubes just like recycling, then they take the bottles and they turn these cubes into flakes.
“The flakes then are woven into a yarn and they’re connected, usually with another yarn. They have a polyester corn, so the poly flakes will work with that, so you can have a blend — it can go around cotton, you can have a cotton/poly blend, or you can have a 100 per cent polyester.
“You can weave it into a very, very fine denier,” she said, adding the finished product can be quite silky. “They’re really great for the really hot weather because they dry so fast. When it’s fine denier, it’s not going to be like those shirts in the ‘80s that were really heavy polyester.”
Of course, the very nature of the product opens it up to garbage jokes, but Haley, whose sense of humour is as great as anybody’s, says the recycling process used is just like anything else that’s new.
“The recycled poly is a very expensive process. Don’t let anybody ever tell you that, because this is a recycled product from garbage pop bottles, that this is a garbage product.
“It’s actually more expensive and it’s a finer product than the generic polyester that’s made today,” added Haley, who is also introducing garments geared at health and well-being, including product designed to add Vitamin C in the system of the wearer.
“Everybody’s like, ‘No way, how does that work?’ Vitamin C is a vitamin that you have to take every day. Your body does not store Vitamin C, so they give you Vitamin C creams for your face – it’s good for your skin. It’s a natural hydrating vitamin,” said Haley.
“The way it works in the fabric is that they take the Vitamin C and they put it into a liquid form and they put a bonding agent in the fibre of the fabric, so the Vitamin C adheres to the fabric in the bonding agent.
“When your body sweats, it secretes sebum – it’s the moisture that comes out of your body – then the sebum touches the shirt. It draws the Vitamin C out of the fibres. It actually does go into your system and it helps hydrate your system. It’s good obviously for your health and well-being.
“It will last about 10 to 15 washes, depending on how hot you wash your garment and how hard you are on it,” said Haley, adding that Vitamins D and E could be next.
“It’s all about stepping outside the box, doing something that nobody else is doing. I mean, everyone is trying green, but if you’re going to do it, don’t do it in a little way. Do it in a big way.”