This female-owned women’s golf apparel brand aims to bring high fashion to the fairway
Courtesy of Lohla Sport
Building a successful apparel brand is hard enough in the best of times — let alone during a global pandemic — but if there’s anyone who is capable of making it work, it’s Lisa O’Hurley, founder and CEO of new women’s golf brand Lohla Sport, which made its debut in January.
O’Hurley is a not only a talented golfer (she played collegiately at Baylor University and still maintains a single-digit handicap), she’s also a longtime golf industry veteran, having spent a decade as an executive at Golf Channel before joining Golfino, a fashion sportswear company based in Germany. O’Hurley says she first noticed Golfino while she and her husband, actor John O’Hurley, were playing in the Dunhill Links, the annual European Tour Pro-Am in Scotland. Lisa visited Golfino’s shop in the Old Course Hotel in St. Andrews.
“I had been a golfer my whole life and was always, to be honest, really looking in other places for things to wear,” O’Hurley told me in a recent interview. “I would shop at Banana Republic, or J.Crew, or wherever I could find stuff that seemed golf appropriate because I wasn’t finding it at the golf shop for whatever reason. It just wasn’t my taste or my fit or whatever it was. So when I found Golfino, I just fell in love with it.”
Fast forward a few years, and O’Hurley was running Golfino’s American business as the VP of Sales and Marketing, where things went swimmingly. O’Hurley took care of wholesale business in the U.S., and the brand had a distributor in Canada. But then: Covid. Like so many retailers, the pandemic hit Golfino hard. The owners sold, and Golfino’s new owners had no interest in continuing to do business in America. But rather than fold, O’Hurley had an idea percolating. She had a sales team. And a designer, Paul Rees, who, prior to his stint with Golfino had worked with top-tier English brands Burberry and Aquascutum. And O’Hurley had a brand vision she believed in. Now all she needed to do was make the clothes.
“I called [Rees] and I said, ‘What would you think if we made our own ladies golf brand?’ And it didn’t even take him ten seconds, he was on board,” O’Hurley said. “The next day, he’s sending me logos. We went full throttle during Covid. Where everybody else was sitting at home watching TV and reruns of different shows, I was really working to plan this business.”
O’Hurley wanted to replicate what she thought was the magic in Golfino — and then some. Namely, she envisioned a line of high-end, sporty yet feminine looks that could compete with the likes of Tory Burch Sport.
“We wanted to make something with the same sort of fit that Golfino had, which is I believe a more modern, contemporary fit,” O’Hurley said. “When I’m not playing golf, I like to shop at Neiman [Marcus] and Saks and Bloomingdale’s and Intermix. And I wanted something reflective of that kind of style on the golf course. There’s no reason that, just because I play golf, I should lose my sense of style.”
O’Hurley’s brand, Lohla Sport, debuted with a spring/summer collection that she and her team sold sight-unseen to 61 of the 80 green-grass clubs she initially pitched. The brand has since expanded to 100 premium accounts in the U.S., and is available for purchase online, too.
“I think people are really liking the look,” O’Hurley said. “It is definitely a European design, but we have L.A.-ed it up. It has a Los Angeles flair completely. So while people will feel the same fabrics as Golfino and definitely the same silhouettes, the look of it is quite a bit more American. And so we’re sticking with that. So far, it has been really, really well received.”
One way to describe Lohla Sport’s aesthetic might be “elevated athleisure.” O’Hurley says Lohla Sport’s luxe fabrics ensure that every piece of apparel is comfortable, stretchy, and allows for maximum mobility. But the pieces are also refined enough for off-course, non-golf activity. One of the brand’s signature bottoms, “The Pull-On Golf Fitness Pant,” is a great example of Lohla Sport’s intended versatility.
“They are so comfortable,” O’Hurley said of the pants. “And the move-ability is so great that literally you could do yoga in them, but you look good enough to go to dinner in it. That is a really important part of the entire collection, that you feel you can go from having a Zoom meeting here at work, straight to the golf course, straight to dinner, and I’m comfortable the whole time. And I look put together.”
If the reception of Lohla Sport’s first collection is any indication, O’Hurley has filled an important niche in the market, and she has high hopes for the brand’s future.
“To be honest, when I first started this, I told everybody, ‘I just want a nice little business for five to ten years. That’s what I really want,’ ” O’Hurley said. “But it’s going really well. I don’t want to be a fly-by-night. I’d like to see this company still going in ten, 15 years, and being a well-thought-of, well-recognized brand.”
So far, so good for O’Hurley and Lohla Sport.