Birdie: Fashion Meets Function on the Golf Course

Kate Sutton’s San Francisco–based preppy golf line, Birdie, infuses bubbly energy into basic polo shirts and khaki bottoms that function as comfortable sport clothing. And Sutton has high hopes that Birdie will reach a market of women off the golf course. “My vision for Birdie is to do for golf what Roxy did for women’s surf. They really transformed the market for surfing [fashion] for women,” said the 26-year-old Sutton.

Though Sutton has no prior apparel design experience, she knows the world of women’s golf. Sutton has been playing the sport recreationally since she was 12 years old and lived adjacent to a golf course in Colorado.

As she continued to play golf in young adulthood, Sutton met women learning to play the sport in order to participate in company golf events or to spend time with husbands or boyfriends who played. She saw a demand for fashionable women’s golf clothing and launched the first Birdie collection for Spring 2006 at the Designers & Agents trade show in Los Angeles last October.

“Everything we do at Birdie has to have an element of ’simple delight.’ We want everything to have a lightness and fun to it,” said Sutton, who worked as a marketing manager at Centrix Financial in Colorado before launching Birdie. She hired designer Janice Hodgen, who was previously senior women’s designer at Puma, to translate her ideas into clothing.

According to Sutton, many private golf courses and country clubs enforce a dress code that states men and women must wear a collared shirt and that skirts or shorts must be a certain length in order to play. Sutton spiced up the basic polo shirts in cotton and spandex with happy colored stripes, keyhole details and a slim silhouette. A knee-length cotton and spandex printed skirt in pink or aqua blue was inspired by a Palm Springs–style sunscreen design.

Wholesale price points are $10 for a white leather golf glove, $34 for a solid polo shirt, $54 for khaki cotton and spandex ankle-length pants and $68 for a printed weekend bag in cotton canvas with PVC coating.

Sutton estimates that 60 percent of her accounts are specialty boutiques and 40 percent are country clubs and golf resorts.

Anita Zupan bought Birdie for the private Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club store in Menlo Park, Calif., and said she treats the golf store more like a specialty boutique. “I see a demand for looks that [the female golfer] can wear on the course and off the course that don’t stand out as a uniform,” said Zupan, who was struck by Birdie’s bright colors and prints. “It’s still a person that’s interested in fashion.”

Sutton credits young female golfers such as Paula Creamer and teen prodigy Michelle Wie with helping to draw attention to women in the sport. “I think that Michelle Wie, especially, being so young, only 16 years old, [created] a phenomenon similar to what Tiger Woods did for golf. People who have no interest in golf are still interested in Tiger Woods the star.”

For more information, call (866) 752-2028, or visit —Rhea Cortado