Phil Mickelson won the PGA Championship yesterday, making history as the oldest golfer ever to win a major. Some say he won through grit, focus, and booming drives. But Phil’s other secret weapon isn’t in his bag: it’s his partnership with Dallas-based performance menswear brand Mizzen+Main.
“He’s a phenomenal ambassador for Mizzen+Main,” Founder and Board Chairman Kevin Lavelle told Dallas Innovates, “whether wearing our performance dress shirt at Augusta or winning the PGA Championship at Kiawah in the polo we designed together.”
In May 2018, Mickelson signed what ESPN called “the most innovative endorsement deal of his career“: his partnership with Mizzen+Main, in exchange for an undisclosed equity stake in the company as well as cash.
“I like to be a trendsetter,” Mickelson told ESPN, before teeing off in a long-sleeved Mizzen+Main performance dress shirt at the 2018 Players Championship, in a pairing with Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler.
“This stuff is stretchy. You don’t even know it’s on,” Mickelson told the Golf Channel at the time. “It’s very comfortable, so I actually really like it. I think nobody does kind of slightly overweight, middle-aged guy better than me, and this says exactly who I am.”
Mizzen+Main was founded in 2012 by SMU grad Kevin Lavelle. He got the idea for it as a 19-year-old intern in Washington, D.C., watching office workers enter buildings dripping wet with sweat. Lavelle wondered why dress shirts couldn’t be made of the same sweat-wicking performance fabrics that he himself wore on the golf course.
Initially, Lavelle was laughed out of meetings. But his company, named after two masts on a sailboat, would grow to be a digitally native designer, wholesaler, and retailer of American-made performance-focused menswear—with seven branded stores and its lines sold in hundreds of others, including Nordstrom. The label’s big sell: menswear made of “high-tech, innovative materials that are wrinkle-free, machine washable, and have stretch and moisture wicking capabilities.”
Mizzen+Main got lots of buzz from its endorsement deals with Mickelson, J.J. Watt, Tim Tebow, and Kyler Murray. More buzz came from viral commercials, like Mickelson doing a dad dance in a Mizzen+Main dress shirt.
When Mickelson made history yesterday, Lavelle was watching—and remembering all the naysayers.
“I have two phrases etched in memory,” Lavelle tweeted after the win. “1) ‘No one will ever wear a performance dress shirt.’ 2) ‘Phil Mickelson isn’t in your demo. He can’t be helpful to Mizzen and Main. Wrong athlete.'”
The right athlete made golf history yesterday. And Mizzen+Main is perfectly positioned to profit from it.
In 2016, Lavelle won an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. By 2017, Mizzen+Main was seeing year-over-year growth of 400%, expanding from its e-commerce channel into 450 stores across the U.S.
Mizzen+Main got an undisclosed “significant growth investment” in 2017 from consumer-focused private equity firm L Catterton, with a goal of expanding the brand’s product offering and omni-channel presence.
Chris Phillips replaced Lavelle as Mizzen+Main CEO in 2019, with Lavelle remaining as board chairman.
Today, Mizzen+Main has seven brick-and-mortar stores of its own: a flagship store in Dallas’ West Village, and stores in Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, Oklahoma City, Coral Gables, FL, and Tampa, FL. It sells dress shirts from $88 to $125, a line of $78 Phil Mickelson Golf Polos, and an array of other performance apparel and accessories.
Mickelson himself? With yesterday’s $2.16 million PGA Championship win, he’s approaching $100 million in career earnings, second only to Tiger Woods among golfers. With the entire sports world congratulating him today, he’s not sweating a thing. Especially if he’s wearing a certain Dallas-based shirt brand.
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