House of Carrington - Dressing for the moment

By Jeffrey A. Rendall; Images courtesy of House of Carrington

HARTLAND, WI – Just take a look around, and you’ll notice the world’s gone ‘casual.’ You see it in the workplace, at the mall and even at the country club – a move towards looser fitting garments that walk a fine line between comfortable and ‘sloppy.’

For those wishing to buck the ‘sloppy’ trend in favor of elegance and sophistication in the clothes you wear (without sacrificing comfort, of course), consider adding House of Carrington apparel to your wardrobe. The Hartland, Wisconsin-based company was created in 2005 by brothers Andy and Tim Bell, two gentlemen seeking to add a new dimension to the fashions of today – or you might say, return to a time when folks were serious about the way they looked, including out on the golf course.


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Andy Bell is the president of House of Carrington, and he thinks it’s about time people started dressing up a bit more: “I’d say that the American workplace has moved way beyond ‘casual’ and into the realm of sloppy. We built our brands on the idea of elegance and sophistication, so the ‘casual’ thing really bothers me.”

Bell continues, “It’s not that I think we should be in suits and ties everywhere we go, but some things in life deserve better than your chino shorts and a knit shirt. I don’t think golf has gone casual as much as it’s adopted a ‘sporty’ feel. Like all things style and fashion, golf fashion is cyclical and I think you’re seeing a movement away from the pieced, paneled, color blocked looks that have driven the performance side of the business. You’re seeing more and more performance fabrics in classic patterns today.”

Bell’s background in golf has certainly influenced House of Carrington’s emphasis on the refined. An accomplished player himself, Bell competed on the high school and college levels against a who’s who list of current Tour pros – so he knows his way around the course as well as the office.


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Bell modestly concedes that being soundly defeated by a gaggle of great future pros during his playing days helped him realize he would need to ‘work’ for a living – so he served at a notable Dallas-area club in various capacities throughout his playing years (all the way from working the grounds up to managing the pro shop) which aided in honing his ‘dressy’ philosophy.

After college, Bell worked for Polo Ralph Lauren for ten years, climbing the corporate ladder from sales rep up to national Sales and Operations Manager for the golf division before serving in the same capacity for the men’s division in department stores – in other words, he was exposed to the way the apparel business functions, and he took it to heart.

His accumulated industry knowledge also revealed a sizeable fashion gap in the apparel market, which House of Carrington was created to fill. “We saw a gap in the market for elegant, sophisticated sportswear, classic yet modern clothes for a 30-65 year-old man. The market’s already full of casual images of washed and rumpled product, and the other side is the performance product chasing the young, hip and cool guy.”


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Ice Feel Classic Stripe

“At House of Carrington, our guy is dressier than that,” Bell explained. “He wants a beautiful polished cotton or wool gabardine trouser, not a chino pant. Our guy always has his sport coat close at hand. Our guy wants to look great no matter where he is and he understands there are moments in life that require more than a knit shirt. He’s the guy that prefers to be overdressed and is fearful of ever being underdressed.”

Putting it succinctly, the House of Carrington brand is built around the type of customer epitomized by its fictional figureheads (the sophisticated Andrew Carrington, his ‘rogue’ brother Liam Carrington and ‘the Muse,’ Isabelle). The characters are based on actual people, if stretched a bit to fit a ‘type’ -- and they all dress for the occasion no matter where they are.

(See below in the ‘details’ section for full descriptions of Andrew, Liam and Isabelle.)


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House of Carrington’s story is certainly unique, and you’ll see the difference when comparing its products to the competition as well. Again, Bell elaborates on the distinction:  “There are a lot of quality products in the market today. If our designs and colors appeal to the consumer, they can be confident they’re buying an incredibly well made shirt. We do a lot of things that aren’t clearly visible to the consumer but over time, they add up to why a House of Carrington shirt becomes a favorite in the closet.”

It’s all in the details, too.

“Details like the mercerization process that ensures the purest of color and brilliant luster, a blind stitch finish on the sleeve hems which is more expensive to do but eliminates the ugly double needle seams you see in other shirts, a collar knit with lycra to ensure shape retention, a fabric knit very dense to eliminate torque during the washing process, self fabric tape not only in the neck seam but also the shoulder seams which we believe adds to the comfort and strength of the shirt, genuine mother of pearl buttons and a signature grosgrain tape in the tail,” Bell lectured.


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As you’d probably guess, materials make a difference for House of Carrington, and they’ve sought to introduce new and interesting fabrics each season. Bell says their 60’s double mercerized lisle is a staple for most companies and is a beautiful fabric. The company also uses a 70’s 2 ply luxury pique as a basic fabric.

House of Carrington also introduced Giza 45 Egyptian cotton to the market, with the intent to have a super soft, natural fabric that didn’t require mercerization. They also launched a fabric called ‘Ice Feel’ which is a unique blend of Lyocell and Egyptian cotton – which ended up being the company’s most expensive product (and a good seller, too).

Absent from Bell’s fabric description was talk of ‘performance,’ which seems to be the rage in golf apparel these days. Bell says it’s all a matter of personal preference as to what great ‘performance’ means from your golf shirt. “For some, it simply means ‘easy care’ and they don’t care what it’s made from. For others, due to their climate, there’s a legitimate concern over moisture management.”


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“For many, golf is a 4-hour ride in a cart, consuming several beers and a cigar or two and the last thing on their mind is performance. For me, performance is about making the best possible product you can make. Some fabrics will wick moisture, some fabrics will be super light weight, some fabrics are simply meant to be luxurious… regardless of the fabric, make sure you use the very best yarns, knit the best fabric, sew the best shirt and finish it with the best details,” Bell added.

House of Carrington’s Tour staff certainly adds input into their designs, but making a great quality shirt for all levels of golfers requires a balance. Bell said the Tour players of today are real athletes – they work out harder than ever and are very fit, looking for a product that’s more body conscious. In contrast, this conforming style may not suit the preferences of a father of three who works sixty hours a week and rarely gets to the gym – so it’s all about finding the right combination of attributes to satisfy both types.

As for what the future holds in the golf apparel industry? Bell humbly admits that he doesn’t know. “I think there’s a core aspect of golf fashion that won’t be much different than it is today, and there will definitely be changes to the fashion layer that surrounds the core – but I can’t call it five years out. Fashion draws its inspiration from so many places that it’s hard to forecast.”


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“I do think you’ll see a strong influence from the 50’s and 60’s golf fashion where you have this young-hip-cool thing blended with classic elegance… think Nicklaus and Palmer in their 20’s,” Bell mused.

If it’s possible to feel better because you’re wearing a finely constructed piece of clothing, then that’s what you’ll experience when putting on a House of Carrington shirt. I’ve had the privilege of trying the products from most of the best apparel manufacturers in the industry, and House of Carrington seems a slight cut above in overall quality – which is a good thing, because the company’s products are certainly more expensive as well.

Naturally, for a garment of this quality, caring for it is fairly simple – and it looks great even after repeated use. You’ll pay more for the brand, but there’s value there, too, as you’ll be able to extend the life of your shirts without running back to the store to find something that ‘looks the part’ for a particular occasion – either on or off the course.


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So if you’re looking for something that’s exceptionally high in quality and style that will consistently ‘meet the moment,’ then House of Carrington may be the best bet for you.

 

 

 

 
Details:

House of Carrington
1100 Cottonwood Avenue
Suite 300
Hartland, WI 53029

Website: www.houseofcarrington.com

Phone: (262) 369-1656

The Story:

The History of House of Carrington
House of Carrington was a storied estate overlooking the English Channel at the mouth of the River Dart. Built just after the Great War, it was the center of a privileged world created by wine importer Andrew Carrington. In its expansive salons, paneled libraries and grand ballrooms gathered the creme de la creme of British society, an enchanted circle of the mostly talented, the occasionally brilliant and the sometimes downright odd. All drawn together by the charm, grace and wit of Andrew Carrington — not to mention his seemingly endless supply of the world's finest wines.
 
The Figurehead: Andrew Carrington
Andrew Carrington was the point around which Britain’s leading social circles revolved, but he was far from still. Born into a working class family, he educated himself by reading the classics, and then ventured into the business world, establishing himself as wine importer. His fortune secured, he built the storied estate on the coast that quickly became the gathering place for the mostly talented, occasionally brilliant, always interesting circle of English society drawn to Andrew’s gifts of charm, grace and wit — not to mention his boundless supply of the world’s finest wines.
 
The time he could spare from his many social obligations Andrew devoted to travel. He was equally happy searching out the rarest varietals in the fusty cellar of a Hungarian monastery or picking up the latest novel by Joyce or Hemingway at Paris’s Shakespeare & Company. He was also a natural at sports, quickly mastering whatever he took up through a combination of natural grace and sheer willpower.
 
While wine was a labor of love for Andrew, keeping an eye on Liam was simply a labor. Many of Andrew's trips involved chasing down Liam in exotic locales and extricating him from compromising situations to protect the family name. This secondary occupation eventually reaped an unexpected reward. It was in trekking the byways of Paris in search of Liam that Andrew stumbled upon the lovely Isabelle.
 
The Rogue: Liam Carrington
The polite called him a free spirit. The honest called him the "Black Sheep." Liam was the younger brother of Andrew who occupied the guesthouse at the House of Carrington. While Andrew was cricket, a fine Cabernet and fidelity, Liam was rugby, strong whiskey and anything else life had to offer.
 
Liam would disappear whenever he got the notion. One month, Budapest. The next, Hong Kong. Andrew would often trek the globe to rescue not only Liam, but also the Carrington name.
 
The Muse: Isabelle
Isabelle was an American debutante who'd been cavorting in Paris with artists, poets and other Stateside ex-pats. Her exquisite beauty was surpassed only by her endless charm and charisma. Many became impossibly smitten with Isabelle after only a few fleeting moments.
 
One night she rescued the wine-sodden Liam from a spirited disagreement over a rather large tab. The next morning, a fetching British stranger appeared on her doorstep. Andrew had been trawling the Parisian streets for days in search of his brother. As Liam continued to sleep off the night, the two got much better acquainted.

Three days later, Andrew convinced Isabelle to return to England with him. She soon found herself at the House of Carrington, a different life altogether.



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E-mail Jeff Rendall, Editor:
jrendall@golftheunitedstates.com