Travis Brasher & Ryan Ellis of TravisMathew are on Callaway Live
TravisMathew CEO Travis Brasher and President Ryan Ellis stopped by the Callaway Live studio to chat about how they started the company, NOT chasing trends and if the "OG" polo is still in.
Released on 11/16/2017
Oh man, I'm so excited to have you guys here.
The guys from Travis Mathew.
I mean we've got Travis, we've got Mathew.
And we're going to talk great products tonight.
We'll really excited to be here and talk about
how great our products are.
I'm really excited too, but it's not Mathew
Yeah, whatever Mathew, but I wanted to just talk
real quick about-
like this pullover for example,
I like it because I can wear this out at dinner.
I can wear this out on the golf course.
I can wear this anywhere.
I mean, genius work here, Mathew.
And this polo, I gotta tell you, every time I wear this
my wife wants to slow dance with me.
And I mean, thanks a lot Mathew, you're a king
in my house right now.
Yeah this is a great shirt.
It's one of our better fabrics.
We like to call this the double seven version.
It breathes, it's got the nice casual feel to it.
It really looks great on Ryan.
Was that, you mean Mathew?
Because it's Travis Mathew, it's not Travis Ryan.
Don't you have a show to do?
Live show, no script?
What could possibly go wrong?
Are you kidding me?
I told you we should have named the company Travis Ryan.
Especially after today.
Alright, here we go again!
Never a dull moment at Callaway Live.
How's everybody doing?
Thank you very much.
What a seamless production we run here.
I'm Harry Arnett.
This is Callaway Live.
And tonight, on a very special Callaway Live,
this is our season finale.
I'm out of breath.
That was a lot of running.
Of season three.
And what better way to signal the end of another
successful season of Callaway Live, but to bring-
we're going to call this our innovator series
of Callaway Live.
And it's not much a series because it's only one show.
I'm filling time while I catch my breath.
As you an see.
You know what we're going to do next season
instead of me running I'm just going to have a little
elliptical for some light,
some light, moderate cardio before the show.
But 2007 was the year.
And if you think about style, if you think about golf style,
you think of two periods.
You think of life before 2007
and you think of life after 2007.
I don't know.
But I'm reading off the cue card right here.
There's no cue card.
You think I have cue cards on this show?
This is all real as it's happening.
But that was the year that a couple of guys thought,
you know what, style in golf is boring and we need
to do something about it.
Ad tonight on Callaway Live we have two of the guys,
the founders, geniuses, the men with the plan.
Who started the company Travis Mathew.
Travis Brasher, Ryan Ellis, right here on Callaway Live.
Please say hello to Travis and Ryan.
There they are!
There he goes.
There he goes, don't do that,
you're going to be out of breath.
Here they come.
How are you?
Good to see you.
Have a seat, have a seat, have a seat.
I don't think I would have made it going twice.
No, good to see you bud.
You guys need to quickly sit down because you're both
like nine feet tall and I'm not
so I felt really short.
But it's been a decade of Travis Mathew
and I remember it like it was yesterday.
The first time I ever saw the brand was on John Mallinger.
Who might have been your first guy, first player to wear it
and I thought that is different.
But how does it even happen that you guys create
what has become what is this global icon in Travis Mathew?
How does that happen?
I don't know, I've never thought it.
That's actually very-
[Harry] Write that stuff down.
It might be aggressive but okay we'll take it.
We don't even sell internationally.
This national icon.
There you go, in California.
This regional juggernaut.
Nobody dominates the zip code of 92008
just like Travis Mathew does.
That's why we were so excited about Callaway.
We're like we can actually do $2 international sales.
No, you guys have like almost 100% market share
in my closet right now.
I mean if you think about where you guys started
I know it was sort of-
I know your story cus I stalked you a little bit
but it just started with sort of a dream, didn't it?
A dream and a boredom actually.
I was working at a country club in Huntington Beach
and was a club pro and was basically was looking
to figure out how to not stand behind a counter
and sell golf balls anymore or golf clubs.
No offense Callaway.
It was a long time nobody sold our golf balls either.
So good for you.
You can see why this type of charm and charisma
I did really well behind the counter with the members.
As eager as I was to get out of there they were more
eager to get rid of me.
So it was a win win.
One of the guys I gave golf lessons to gave us some money
and kind of kicked off the dream so to speak.
Yeah you know you have an awesome personality when someone
writes you a check to leave their country club.
They signed a petition when I got the job
to not have me get it
so at least it was consistent from beginning to end.
But what were you seeing, Ryan, when you looked
at what was going on in starting in golf apparel and style
that you felt like there was this opportunity?
Yeah, it's pretty easy, there was an opportunity
for a cool brand but I always say-
that's a funny way to say it but it's like a color bomb
went of in golf and it was bright yellows, greens,
all these florescents.
And we launched the first line, it was Travis's idea,
world of black and white.
Literally no color.
So what do guys wear?
We look around and black, white, gray, blues.
It's getting back to that classic look
and the traditional look.
Photography was easy, you didn't have
to do color photography it was black and white.
Perfect, it was perfect.
But I remember, I mean you think like black and white,
that seems sort of too subtle, but in that world
where everything was athletic and bright.
I like to wear the belt even now.
But when you get out of belt right.
But when you guys brought that it was like the whole
world was like holy cow there's something brand new
and fresh about this brand.
Yeah, it was honestly really simple.
It was clothes you could wear on and off the golf course.
And for us, you walk into a bar, especially when you're
a little bit challenged in the looks department
you gotta make sure you're not standing out
with a florescent orange shirt or yellow and it's hanging
you got short sleeves but it kind of sits
in between short and long sleeve.
So yeah, it was a tough time.
I got a little offended of the use
of the pronoun you there.
I think you meant when one hypothetically
doesn't have much in the looks department.
And I remember you guys were pretty well know originally
from having like a very distinctive look.
Where did that come from Ryan?
Because in your vision of where you thought-
Well I'm not going to take all the credit here.
Definitely early on we had a lot of people with the vision.
We took it from dress shirts.
It's not what you told me back stage!
You're like I'm the guy, make sure you give me credit.
Well, there's people watching.
Hopefully those people aren't any of them watching.
But we took the concept off dress shirts.
You know, that's what guys wear out.
They wear dress shirts out.
So how could we make a polo look more like a dress shirt?
How can we make it not look like a uniform?
Because that's what everyone was doing.
They'd golf, they'd be done with golfing,
take off their uniform like a basketball jersey
and put something they'd want to wear on.
So that was the inspiration early on and we kind of got
known for that chest stripe
and now we've kind of evolved from there
and continued to get more lifestyle.
And the attitude of the brand I thought was also something
that was so different early on and has maintained
through the life of the brand it sort of had an irreverent
take on things that typically people speaked in kind
of hushed tones in our sport, golf especially,
but it had a much different way of attacking life maybe.
Am I right, Travis?
We seem so eloquent.
Yeah, no, we definitely come- both of us were born
and raised in the Huntington Beach area.
So we come from a surf culture.
I've actually surfed twice in my life
and it went really well obviously.
So I turned to golf.
But I did always respect what the Quiksilvers,
the Billabongs, the Hurleys of the world were doing
and we took a lot of our marketing ideas
from the surf companies.
And using that inspiration, we're all-
there was about five of us when we started.
We were all inspired by music so all of those things
just the Southern California lifestyle came into play.
Were there ever any-
Which for golf is very different.
Were there ever anything that you guys did
that we maybe didn't see that you felt like you
pushed it a little too far?
Yeah, I'll take this one.
So the very first season, the first polo.
One of our best selling polos is called the OG.
Just a pocket polo.
Very simple, clean, hard collar.
Collar stays in it, four button placket and pocket.
Well the way it started was designed up as your collar would
pop up in the back and it'd finish up and there was a big
Travis Mathew on the back of it.
And the first person I showed the line to,
they didn't see the back of it.
And I showed it to them and I said this is our pocket polo
and she went, what do you need a pocket on a polo for?
She goes do you put your cigarettes in there?
And I realized oh my god this is way too progressive
so I never turned the shirt around.
Went right back and said guys, let's remake this thing.
Let's just make a regular collar on it.
And it turned out three, four seasons later we had it in
six colors, one of our best selling polos.
And now the weed pocket is one of the best sellers.
That you've got.
Which is amazing.
Sometimes the best innovations
you don't even know are coming.
Let's just say popping the collar with your logo
on the back probably wasn't our best idea.
I still wear it that way though.
And then when did you guys realize-
cus I know when you're starting an apparel company
especially in something that's fashion oriented,
there's so many companies that don't make it.
When did you realize that this is actually going to work?
People are going to buy these crazy ideas that we come up
with and these-
Well until you just told us it was a global brand
I didn't know.
I believe I said global icon.
Yeah, icon, yeah.
I didn't know it worked.
So right now.
It's a great feeling, I gotta tell you.
No, I think we realized probably year three or four.
When we started breaking down some barriers.
I mean there were a couple key design features-
hard collars, everything at that point was soft collar.
We had a little bit different fit.
We kind of straddled in between the European fit
and what we would call the US fit,
which were the major brand of Nike and Adidas.
Finding that middle zone where, hey it's not so tight
that my smedium doesn't look right
when I walk out of the house.
So I would say year three or four is kind of when it hit.
Yeah, I think year two or three we found kind
of our signature fabric.
Which is like what are we going to be?
We came out and the line was mostly poly
and everyone was doing that.
And how do we make it look cooler?
And we found this cotton poly blend.
It was a plated jersey so it looked casual on the outside
but it had performance to it.
Then we found out where we lived.
You got casual brands, which is all the Nordstrom brands
and all the fashion brands.
And you've got performance brands in golf.
And we're one of the few brands we live
in that middle ground.
You hear of athleisure a lot.
But we were doing that ten years ago where we have this
lifestyle product that's very athletic at the same time
it just doesn't look athletic.
We've got Travis, we got Ryan here.
Don't go anywhere, we're going to be right back
with both of them.
I have a really important question to ask.
It's going to be about me.
So don't go anywhere, we'll be right back.
[Man] Whoo, hoo, hoo, hoo.
Hit that ball.
Hit him in the face, hit him in the face.
Get ahead boy, hitting his head up against the wall.
Shut up, man.
Tour would kick you off, man.
[Man] That's what happens when you roll with scarface man.
[Man] May the best man win.
Welcome back to Callaway Live.
Ryan Ellis, Travis Brasher.
Harry Arnett sitting here.
So when I think of Travis Mathew brand,
I think of innovation.
Which is a little different thing to think about
because typically when we talk innovation,
particularly at a company like Callaway,
we're talking about technical innovation
or making golf balls go 30 yards farther
than they ever have before.
Buy you're Chrome softs.
At you're nearest pro shop.
But for you guys, you guys were coming into a space
with really an innovators mind set,
an outsiders mindset,
ironically being golfers yourself.
How do you stay out of-
He doesn't play golf.
Yeah I've seen him play golf.
He owns clubs.
But how do you stay out ahead, because it wasn't that
long after you guys got started that some of the brands
you talked about, a lot of them started
to look like you guys.
So how do you continue to stay out in front of
those companies and how do you stay out in front
of the trends?
We don't chase trends.
I think that's the biggest way to do it.
It's hard, if pink's in right now you're going to be so
far behind the curve if you're trying to chase trends.
We're not that fast fashion company.
We've found that magic balance that we have
kind of a conservative customer for the most part.
We know how to push them and how not to go too far.
And I think that's important, as you know, in golf
is you want to push that guy bust you don't want
to go too far.
So I think we've done a good job of that.
And now you're breaking outside,
you're off the golf course now because I see-
I'm hanging out at the neighborhood barbecues,
going to the birthday parties, which is weird because my
kids don't even go to them.
I just show up at these kids' birthday parties
and there are people that aren't golfers
that I see head to toe in Travis Mathew.
A hat, a pullover shirt, pants, I'm going to keep going.
Underwear, socks, shoes, keep goin.
But you're not really a golf brand any more.
Well let me give a- can I do a plug?
Nordstrom, we love you.
No, Nordstrom's been our number one customer.
They've been an amazing partner for us
for the last five years.
They're pushing the envelope of the lifestyle of our brand.
They want more from us.
They look at us, they see Tommy Bahama,
they see Peter Millar, they see that guy getting older
and still doing a great job.
But we're kind of the younger version of that
and we did 30 short sleeve wovens with them.
We did 15 board shorts with them.
We've got this long sleeve knit category.
So they really, that and our retail stores
really help push us forward.
What are you excited about when you think of the future
of the company and where it's headed?
That you'll wear a Travis Mathews shirt
when we do this interview.
That's all I was doing.
I was just trying to sucker Travis into sending
me a little care package.
But on the horizon aside from really a style icon
like myself wearing the brand,
where do you see the brand going in terms
of what the next couple of years are going to look like?
We're really excited about the retail stores.
It just gives us the opportunity to tell our own story.
Nordstrom's obviously's been a great partner
and PGA Tour Superstore
and Roger Dunn was our first customer.
Anytime all those groups that we mentioned have given us
an opportunity to sell something to sell something besides
just shorts and polos, and as you guys know
in this business, that's what golf typically is
is shorts, polos and hats.
And we're trying to get outside of that category and we have
been from day one.
We want to sell that really nice sweater.
And that tie, well maybe not that tie actually.
The jeans, the shoes, shirt underneath it.
Maybe even the glasses.
You know what I'm going to do, I'm going to light your
ass up on Travis Mathew Live when I'm a guest on your show.
I've got the Travis jeans on, which I love.
And they look great.
Yeah, thank you very much, I think they do too.
Would you guys like to see?
Yeah, everything looks good.
I know, I know, I know, right?
(cheering and applause)
One more time.
Okay, I'll do the little model walk.
You have the step.
But I love, you know, obviously I have a gazillion
golf shirts but the other stuff you guys do
from the button downs, the wovens, the pullovers and jeans
I can't get enough of it.
Which is great, we liked it so much we felt like we
gotta buy the company because it's going to save us
a little money at retail.
I think you mentioned the retail, the thing I think
is so cool, and we try to, you know when you think
about a brand making a transition into not just being
a brand that's about the goods it sells
but really being an experiential brand.
When you go into-
this will definitely feel like a commercial-
and it's totally meant to be.
But when you go into a Travis Mathew retail location
it is an experience.
You're not jut going into your garden variety men's store.
It has the vibe of the brand, which I really love that.
Yeah, that was something that from day one,
we made a glass ping pong table.
We want people to be active when they walk in the store.
In today's day in age if it's not experiential,
you're going to lose.
So we're trying to obviously win all the time
and winning for us is walk into our store,
have a good time, don't be pressured to buy something,
hang out, and if you want to buy something, great.
If not, worst case scenario,
hopefully you had a great experience
and met a few nice people.
So that's really all we're going for when someone walks
into our stores.
Anything for spring, Ryan?
I told you about black, white and gray.
When you do that ten years it gets stale.
We've had a lot of requests-
[Harry] You going to add in in navy?
And a medium blue.
[Harry] Oh and a medium blue, that's great.
We actually are now black, white, gray
and now we're a sea of blue if you walk
into the retail store so we're branching out now.
Yeah, no it think there's two things.
There's color and I think we're adding a little more
fun to the brand.
The brand was pretty literal.
You looked at it and you went okay it looks really
nice, sharp, all that but we're adding a lot of fun to it.
We've got shirts with drinks on it
and different things like that.
I talked Travis into taking the design team to Mexico
for a design inspiration trip.
We have those too.
It looks great on the expense report.
We did get one design out of it.
It was a Mexican blanket we turned into a chest stripe
that turned out pretty cool.
But we had a good time.
That was the product we should have cut.
Going back to seven questions.
In order to get that approved you have to have one product
that makes it from that trip.
We got one.
Well you guys know my sizes right?
So you know how to get me the care package?
We do, we do.
Hey, I'm telling you, just on a serious note,
Harry's been an inspiration to us for...
I was going to say we've known him four months
but two have been good.
I have very short shelf life, believe me.
But we really appreciate you guys being here.
We love that you're part of our family now
and can't wait to see what happens in the future.
And let's have you back on the show,
we can talk about some color on apparel
and I'll do another little fashion show.
It seemed like that went over really well with the audience.
Thanks a lot.
That's Travis, that's Ryan.
Next week, season in review of Callaway Live.
You're not going to want to miss that one.
Thanks for a great season, we'll see you next time.